Real Madrid-PSG: Champions League the ultimate yardstick
Real Madrid's 3-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain has changed the atmosphere in both the Spanish and French capitals. Having stamped their authority on the Champions League against the Franco-Qatari pretenders to their throne, Real's disastrous domestic campaign now weighs that bit less heavily on Madridistas. On the other hand, PSG's string of impressive results in France seems almost to have been forgotten overnight. So much for all the talk of fine football, frightening front threes and free-scoring; that collapsed like a house of cards on Wednesday night. PSG have been built to conquer Europe, the very domain where Real Madrid established their legend in black and white, and are now adding to it in colour.
Too many PSG men failed the Champions League test
In today's game, the Champions League is pretty much the be all and end all. Every player worth his salt aims to play in it and star in it. Adrien Rabiot, PSG's excellent central midfielder, gave a (possibly all too) revealing assessment of what befell the Frenchmen in Madrid, explaining: "It's all well and good putting eight past Dijon..." Rabiot's point was, clearly, that, when it comes to football, the wheat is separated from the chaff at the Santiago Bernabéu, not in Ligue 1. And on this higher footballing plane, he and Neymar showed themselves to be equal to the task, sure; but the same certainly cannot be said of all of their colleagues. As was the case a year ago in Barcelona, more than a few failed to step up to the plate.
Real Madrid are in their element in the European Cup
Which is precisely what doesn't tend to happen to a Real Madrid so synonymous with this tournament. Their LaLiga title defence has been pitiful and they've been embarrassed in the Copa del Rey, but when the Champions League comes around, they're a different proposition. They play with assurance, they get that bit of luck, they're in control of the situation. When the going gets tough, they dig in and ride it out; when their tails are up, they take full advantage. In the European Cup, they're in their element. Anything can happen in Paris, of course; but, at the halfway stage, the tie is in a position few had predicted. And PSG don't only face a 3-1 deficit; they face a 3-1 deficit against the past masters at this competition.
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