15th February 2022,8pm GMT,was the set day and set time for a mammoth meeting between two European Giants, in the Champions League round of 16 . On one side was the most successful clubside in European football history, Real Madrid and on the other side was another European big wig and French giants Paris Saint-Germain. Both of them currently topping their respective leagues.
A certain Lionel Messi,a record 7 time Ballon d'Or winner is domiciled in PSG with former Real Madrid captain fantastic, Sergio Ramos and the current world best goalkeeper, Gianluigi Donnarumma. I have not mentioned the magical Neymar,the super Mbappe and the well rounded Verrati. PSG now boasting a kind of squad you would normally see in Real Madrid,especially in the days of the Galacticos.
Not to be outdone Real Madrid, eventhough no longer has the glitter, by their lofty standards, in terms of players, still boast of quality all round, from arguably the current world best midfielder and Ballon d'Or winner, Luca Modric,to the stable and consistent Toni Kroos, to the young and skillful Brazilian Vinicius Jnr and to the world renowned striker Karim Benzema, just to mention a few.
Needless to say this match was expected to be such an explosive affair. Alas,we nearly didn't see "explo" not to talk of "sive",hehe. I mean we didn't get anything near to an explosive encounter. PSG played like a Barcelona with an outrageous ball possession, plus a Lion like determination to mark any Madrid player on the ball. Lionel Messi was in inspired form and Kylian Mbappe kept making himself such a nuisance to the Madrid back line.
What went wrong? I would tell you for free. Madrid came to the match with a game plan to counter attack with a low block which is not their usual style,but which worked for them once last season in a Champions League knockout match against Liverpool, where a congested fixture schedule(and therefore fatigue) meant they couldn't play their usual possession and pressing game.
The problem yesterday was that Madrid couldn't just get it going for the counter,the almost endlessly kept losing possession when the ball is booted forward for a counter. Now this invited more and more pressure already on them by this well drilled PSG team was not enough. I must say the possession percentage of PSG over them looked very embarrassing at times plus PSG were playing with a fierce high press.
Madrid tried to change things in the 2nd half by doing a high pressing on PSG,to give themselves time of breathe from the choking PSG high press. They were not as good at the pressing game as PSG,neither is Ancelloti a fan of the ultra high press PSG were using or men like Pep,Tuchel and Klopp use. So what do we have? Their pressing in the 2nd half didn't yield a telling dividend overall and pressure was back on the team.
Maybe they thought they could shock PSG with a counter attacking system, but PSG was too motivated for all of that.
By and large Ancelloti was tactically outclassed here. They should count themselves fortunate not to have cconceded more even.
To overturn this one nil deficit at home on the 9th of March, they may need to revert back to type to get something out of this match. Possess the ball like the good old Madrid,kill the tempo at times,whilst you remain faithful to your wings.