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Real Madrid 3-1 PSG: subs Lucas Vázquez, Marco Asensio the key

Zinedine Zidane deserves praise for the decisions he made during Real Madrid's Champions League last-16 victory over Paris Saint-Germain.


Match-winning substitutions

Real Madrid so often find form in the Champions League, and saw off Paris Saint-Germain in a final flurry for which their coach, Zinedine Zidane, deserves praise. He got the better of PSG boss Unai Emery in the battle of the dugouts, and shook up the last-16 first leg with the introduction of Lucas Vázquez and Marco Asensio.

An extra man

To boost the side's presence in the engine room, Zidane had opted to field four in midfield to PSG's three by starting Isco over Gareth Bale. The move proved worthwhile in the first half but, after the break, the effect of the numerical advantage began to waver, leading 'Zizou' to look to a different solution.

Marco Asensio runs at PSG defender Thomas Meunier after coming on in Wednesday's Champions League match.
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Marco Asensio runs at PSG defender Thomas Meunier after coming on in Wednesday's Champions League match.G3-SFP©GTRESONLINE

Attacking out wide

Zidane saw that, with the game becoming increasingly end to end, Vázquez and Asensio were just the players. The zest they injected on the flanks rattled an already less than rock solid PSG backline, and changed the course of the second 45. With the youngsters stationed on either wing, Real made better use of the spaces and exploited the visitors' evident defensive shortcomings out wide.

Effective change of formation

The shift to a classic 4-4-2, which had already worked well against Sevilla and Real Sociedad, brought the best out of the qualities possessed by Asensio (who also rolled his sleeves up defensively to win the ball back three times), and breathed new life into a Real Madrid side who looked better without Karim Benzema.

Options on both wings

The presence of Vázquez and Asensio gave Luka Modric and Toni Kroos excellent passing options on each flank, adding pace to the Real Madrid attack and helping to get players into good shooting positions.

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From deep

Often arriving from deep, Vázquez pinned PSG defender Yuri Berchiche back on the right. In this move, the Real Madrid youth product came close to setting up fellow substitute Bale, with the attack finally yielding a corner.

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