PSG 1-2 Real Madrid: Cristiano Ronaldo is back in Ballon d'Or contention and other things learned

Alex Rea 7/03/2018
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn

Holders Real Madrid eased into the Champions League quarter-finals with a 2-1 win at 10-man Paris Saint-Germain.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s 12th goal in the competition and Casemiro’s late strike ensured Zinedine Zidane’s side progressed 5-2 on aggregate in the French capital.

Leading 3-1 from the first leg, Real never looked in danger against the sedate hosts despite Edinson Cavani’s fortunate second-half equaliser.

Here, we examine three things learned from Paris.

ANGEL DI-SSAPPEAR

Paris Saint-Germain's Argentinian forward Angel Di Maria

Paris Saint-Germain’s Argentinian forward Angel Di Maria

To borrow a phrase from Jose Mourinho, Angel Di Maria is a specialist in failure. At least when it comes to the big games anyway.

PSG paid dearly for trying to make the Argentine replicate the play-making leadership of Neymar. But where the Brazilian not only shoulders pressure, but embrace it also, Di Maria shrinks under the weight of expectation.

When he isn’t the one to lead, you see the best from him. That’s why he began 2018 in such scintillating form, arguably emerging as the Parisian’s best player.

When he got the nod against his former side, he was comfortably the worst player on the pitch. He lost possession more than any other in the first half (19 times) and it all points to a weak mentality.

Di Maria exemplifies a player of elite-mediocrity. Considering how often he was on the ball, his decision-making is among the very worst at the top level.

Any Argentina fans watching will be begging boss Jorge Sampaoli not to take the 30-year-old to Russia.

RONALDO BACK IN BALLON D’OR MIX

Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo

Real Madrid’s Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo is now breaking his own records – he is simply different class. His headed-opener was his 437th goal for Los Blancos in 427 games.

It was also a 15th finish in his last nine fixtures and he equalled a Champions League record by scoring in a ninth consecutive game in the competition – level with Ruud van Nistelrooy for Manchester United back in 2002/03.

His physical powers are on the wane, of that there is no doubt, but the 33-year-old continues to produce the type of numbers which make it difficult to ignore him for Ballon d’Or contention.

The drought he endured at the beginning of the season has well and truly ended and the Portuguese’s maturity to understand the need to evolve again is a great testament to his disposition.

He is making his weaknesses, weaker and his strengths, stronger. If you need justification of the point then the two halves in Paris provide amplification.

In the opening 45 minutes he was far too involved in the early phases, dropping deep into pockets of space and looking to link-up with Karim Benzema.

But then after the break emerged a microcosm for his evolution into an apex predator. Rather than getting involved in the build-up play, he moved to complete a cutting counter – a perspicacious striker.

THE END IS NIGH FOR UNAI

PSG's Unai Emery

PSG’s Unai Emery

PSG are a team manufacture to win the Champions League. The injury absence of Neymar is simply not enough to rationalise the chasm in class and quality in Paris.

When you consider the financial might of both clubs, the gulf between the two was laughable. Ultimately, the boss pays the penalty.

Last season’s exit to Barcelona – while catastrophic in its nature – at least showed PSG could dine at Europe’s top table but they were completely unseated by Real this year.

Breezing to domestic titles is not enough for a club of PSG’s ambitions. Arguably, Emery should have departed after the nonsensical tactics in the second leg against Barcelona.

But it’s not just his tactics, there is fire, drive or passion in his team. Surely when the arrives his time as PSG boss will dawn and the question will turn to who is next.

Arsene Wenger, anyone?

Most popular

Real Madrid player ratings as divine Marco Asensio leads way past PSG in Champions League

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Marco Asensio (r) in action for Real Madrid at PSG in Champions League.

Holders Real Madrid bounded into the UEFA Champions League’s quarter-finals as goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Casemiro secured a 2-1 win and 5-2 aggregate triumph at 10-man Paris Saint-Germain.

Against opponents missing injured Brazil superstar Neymar, Ronaldo powered home a 51st-minute header to move Los Blancos close to progression. Italy centre midfielder Marco Verratti was then dismissed for two bookings for PSG, who soon after got a goal back through Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani’s lucky goal.

But another deflected effort, this time at other end, through Casemiro made the tie safe for the 12-time European kings.

The hosts at Parc des Princes had needed to score at least twice to advance at kick-off, but they meekly went out to Spanish opposition for the second-consecutive year.

Here are our Real Madrid player ratings:

REAL MADRID

Keylor Navas – 6: Didn’t have a great deal to do, despite urgency for PSG to score plenty.

Dani Carvajal – 7: Utterly dominated former team-mate Di Maria. Led the way with seven tackles for his side.

Raphael Varane – 7: Playing on French soil suited the Les Bleus star. His five clearances was best for Madrid.

Sergio Ramos – 7: Denied Cavani any breathing space at centre forward and drifted across to keep Kylian Mbappe quiet.

Marcelo – 7: Was a constant outlet charging up from left-back. Tally of four key passes tells its own story.

Lucas Vazquez – 7: Madrid are getting the benefit for his regular run of games. Beautiful cross teed up Ronaldo.

Casemiro – 7: Made one great block on Cavani and helped Madrid win midfield battle. Sheepishly celebrated deflected goal.

Mateo Kovacic – 6: Walked a disciplinary tight rope and was lucky to receive clemency. Substitution was essential.

Marco Asensio – 8: Skill shown with nutmegged reverse pass for Ronaldo’s goal was worth price of admission alone.

Karim Benzema – 5: Even in victory, looks so far short. Missed a glaring one-on-one and embarrassingly stumbled over ball.

Cristiano Ronaldo – 7: This generation’s great big-game player struck again. Has scored in nine-consecutive Champions League matches.

SUBS

Toni Kroos – 6: Provided the usual amount of control when introduced in midfield.

Gareth Bale – N/A: Enjoyed himself in the spaces left in the Parc des Princes. Fired in one shot.

Isco – N/A: Had less than 10 minutes to impress. Has fallen down pecking order.

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates Real Madrid's second goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates Real Madrid’s second goal.

Most popular

Watch Gareth Bale and other Real Madrid stars take flight on Emirates A380 aircraft

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • Mail
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • G+
  • WhatsApp
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn
Sergio Ramos in the first-class shower spa onboard.

Ever wondered what it would be like to travel with the Real Madrid team?

Thankfully, Emirates has answered that question!

On board the iconic Emirates A380, their new video release features club captain Sergio Ramos, Brazilian Marcelo, Welsh wizard Gareth Bale, German enforcer Toni Kroos and midfield hardman Casemiro being looked after by Emirates Cabin Crew – who show off their very own football skills 40,000ft in the air!

Watch the Los Blancos stars enjoy immaculate service in the First Class section and take advantage of the aircraft’s world-class facilities during a flight from Dubai to the Spanish capital.

Most popular