Paris Saint-Germain’s trip to the Santiago Bernabeu to take face Real Madrid did not disappoint as a spectacle.
The Champions League regularly serves up some great clashes but they don’t always live up to their billing. This one did.
However, PSG fans can be forgiven for not marvelling at the occasion after their side ended up on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline.
Both Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo featured heavily but it was the latter who starred on the night with a vital brace.
All is not lost for Unai Emery and his men though and there’s still plenty that can happen in the second leg back in Paris.
The same game plan deployed in the Spanish capital just won’t do though and the Ligue 1 giants will have to alter their approach if they’re to make a successful comeback.
Here are three changes they need to make for the second leg.
TURN TO EXPERIENCE
Against the likes of Real Madrid, you have to draw upon all the Champions League experience at your disposal.
However, instead of fielding his stalwarts, Emery opted for a Thiago-less line-up with Motta left in Paris and Silva only earning a place on the bench for the first leg.
Granted, Motta has endured a season plagued by injuries but having returned against Sochaux, should at least have travelled with the squad even if he wasn’t ready to start. His presence in the dressing room itself for a fixture of that magnitude should’ve justified his inclusion.
Giovai Lo Celso started as the midfield anchor and struggled, conceding the penalty to allow the hosts back into the game.
Meanwhile, Silva was dropped in favour of Presnel Kimpembe. The 22-year-old has proved a reliable option in the past and has been part of the first team for a while but found himself chasing Ronaldo’s shadow at times. Silva’s experience and know-how surely would’ve brought more composure to the back-line.
With the task all the more daunting as they trail 3-1 in the tie, Emery must turned to his experienced duo to help inspire a recovery.
NEYMAR MUST MAKE BETTER DECISIONS
Whether it was the glamourous stage that saw him get carried away or an intense desire to prove himself against the best, Neymar made some poor choices in the first leg. He needs to look up, and see more than just the goal.
The most frustrating aspect about his performance was the fact that he actually played very well for the most part but let his team down with some of his decision-making.
He was a constant threat and completed a phenomenal 13 dribbles on the night but tried to do too much on his own. It’s not like he never passed the ball. He did create some good chances but only when the option for him to shoot or take on another defender was no longer available.
The Brazilian is his side’s main man but he’s also surrounded by a wealth of talent. He needs to trust his team-mates more.
The first leg was played at a frenetic pace and while that made for a great spectacle for the neutrals, Emery must’ve been shaking his head on the touchline at times, wishing his team would settle down and be more compact.
The Parisians must not forget that they didn’t come away from Spain empty-handed. Adrien Rabiot’s strike to open the scoring remains a vital away goal.
Madrid are the masters of the counter-attack and will no doubt set up to hurt the hosts on the break. Emery cannot allow his side to play into their hands. If they come on too strong, Zinedine Zidane’s side will most likely pick them off when possession is turned over.
All PSG need is one goal and suddenly the momentum will be on their side. On the other hand, a Madrid goal would make an already difficult task seem impossible.
Know more about Sport360 Application