Saturday, April 10, 2021

A still elusive PSG surprises Bayern Munich

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If there is a manual or a notice to understand how Paris-Saint-Germain (PSG) works, no one has managed to get their hands on it this season. The victory (3-2), obtained on the snow-covered lawn of Bayern Munich, Wednesday April 7, thus defies meteorological and statistical probabilities.

In conditions closer to a biathlon pursuit than a quarter-final of the Champions League football, the Parisians suffered a heavy shot (thirty-one strikes for their opponents) and responded six times with clinical effectiveness .

Read also Bayern Munich-PSG: carried by Mbappé, Paris wins at the European champion

In this revisited Fort-Alamo, PSG clung to the virtues of dominated teams, even outclassed at times. That is to say a mixture of esprit de corps – “The players showed a combative state of mind”, greeted the Parisian coach Mauricio Pochettino – associated with a hint of luck, not to mention a new order of candles to implore the porter “Saint Keylor Navas”.

The Costa Rican entered the brain of Munich shooters, orphans of their finest trigger, the Polish Robert Lewandowski, injured. This more than compensates for the package of Parisian midfielder Marco Verratti, positive for Covid-19 for the second time in two months.

Read also Bayern Munich-PSG: the “culture clash”

Luck and talent

Because sport consumes superlatives, the term exploit is tempting to coat this victory against a defending champion who has been undefeated for nineteen games in the competition. Except that the PSG, by its means of State with Qatar, its status of finalist in title or the permanent danger represented by the duo Neymar-Mbappé, is not quite in its register with this role of small team came to rob Bayern.

But in recent months, Paris has not mastered anything. Next to the dream night in Barcelona in the round of 16, mid-February (4-1), there are slips against dunces of the French championship (Lorient, Nantes), or even this defeat (0-1) fresh four days against Lille decided to become caliph instead of the caliph in Ligue 1. At the Parc des Princes, PSG had failed in the game and in the mind like Neymar, frustrated and expelled.

To tell the truth, the Parisians operate as a team of cuts and blows. As the perfect pupil of Argentine coach Marcelo Bielsa, Pochettino prefers to see his teams dictate the rhythm of the matches, control the ball and run a lot. In Munich, it above all fulfilled the last condition. The rest is a combination of two things: “The talent of the players and a dose of luck that allowed us to win this match”, sums up the coach, lucid.

This talent is that of a Neymar capable of sucking up five defenders to better shift Kylian Mbappé from the 3e minute. Luck is the continuation of the action with the hand fault of Manuel Neuer, the kind of event as improbable as a bad note played by Rachmaninoff. The talent also resembles Marquinhos, defender with attacking gestures and scorer on one leg (30e) before being replaced in the aftermath, injured adductors.

Read also Champions League: Real dominates Liverpool, Manchester City beats Dortmund on the wire

Paris and the specter of return matches

Wednesday, at 2-0, PSG fell again and this time impossible to incriminate the unfortunate Thiago Silva (today at Chelsea), a little too easily dressed as a captain back in the hot moments in recent seasons.

Deceived by an “ex”, Eric Choupo-Moting (37e), then by Thomas Müller on the hour mark, the Parisians resisted with their current means, those of a defense cobbled together with the goodwill and limits of Colin Dagba and Mitchel Bakker on the sides or a Danilo Pereira, taken down a notch after leaving Marquinhos.

With the man of the match trophy in his hands, Kylian Mbappé also highlighted the collective courage of his people at the microphone of RMC Sport: “We suffered, but we suffered as a team. “ Important nuance. After his hat-trick in Barcelona, ​​the striker doubled the pleasure with a grazing shot flush with the post of a Neuer cooled by the realism of the world champion (68e).

But Mbappé knows too well this subtlety of the regulations of European competitions, also called the return match – it will take place on April 13. In 2017 with the famous “remount” of Barça, and two years later with the accident against a weak Manchester United, PSG had squandered its initial advantage. In tennis, we talk about “little arm”, this fear of concluding that often separates the good players from the best.

Read also Against Bayern Munich, PSG continue their season of revenge in the Champions League

Before erasing the memory of the final lost in Lisbon in August 2020 (0-1), and shouting “revenge”, PSG has six days ahead of it – interspersed with a trip to Stasbourg in the league – to review its copy. Park the bus in front of Navas’ cages, wait for the balloons to ricochet off him, and make Mbappé speak the lightning, the plan worked once but has some limits.

Hansi Flick has already noted them. Sorry for the ineffectiveness of his players and deploring new injuries (Niklas Süle and Leon Goretzka), the Bayern coach did not lay down his arms. “We know that Paris is a very strong team but we can hurt them too, and we want to try to take advantage of it by trying to be more efficient”, warns the technician.

Statistics give him only a 5% chance of seeing the semi-finals after such a loss in the first leg at home. But should we still talk about logic and blacken statistical notebooks with this PSG? Not sure.

Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea win against Porto

In the other quarter-final of the evening, the English club Chelsea, now coached by former Parisian technician Thomas Tuchel, won 2-0 against Porto, in a match relocated to Seville for health reasons. The young attacking midfielder Mason Mount scored the first goal, before Ben Chilwell made the break at the end of the game. These achievements place the Blues in a very good position to regain the last four of the C1, which would be a first since 2014. The return match will be played, Tuesday, April 13, again at the Sanchez-Pizjuan stadium of Sevilla FC, for the same reasons health related to Covid-19 between Portugal and the United Kingdom.

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