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Real Madrid need to take a long, hard look at themselves

It really doesn't bear thinking about what might have happened if Kylian Mbappé, Edinson Cavani and Neymar had been available to Paris Saint-Germain.

I can't remember the last time Real Madrid didn't manage a single shot on target. When Cristiano Ronaldo left for Juventus, nobody was under any illusions as to the challenge Los Blancos faced to replace his goals; yet it was still hard to imagine that they would go from being a side that battered so many teams in attack, to one that is such a dream for its opponents.

PSG knew their game plan inside out; Real Madrid did not

Angel di María celebrates after scoring against his former club as PSG beat Real Madrid 3-0 in Paris on Wednesday night.
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Angel di María celebrates after scoring against his former club as PSG beat Real Madrid 3-0 in Paris on Wednesday night.Mehdi Taamallah / DPPI / AFP7 /

To a man, PSG knew exactly what they were trying to do right from the off; the same could not be said of Madrid. Zinedine Zidane's side wandered about playing sideways passes and, for want of any other ideas, looking for Gareth Bale - a player transformed from outcast to the only man maintaining the pride lost by a process of squad planning that lacks any foresight and seems intent on weakening a side that previously had no equal on the European stage

Identity. That's what we're lacking.

Dani Carvajal was the only Spaniard in Zidane's starting line-up at the Parc des Princes. The hosts, meanwhile, had two in Juan Bernat and Pablo Sarabia, with the pair later joined by another, Ander Herrera. I know that football is a worldwide game, and that we live in a globalised age where it really doesn't matter where you're from. Yet at the same time, emotional roots are something that can help a side through a game when it becomes an uphill battle.

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Is Éder Militao really better than Nacho? Is Ferland Mendy really better than Sergio Reguilón? Does the Toni Kroos of today play with greater grit and determination than Dani Ceballos? There is real hunger among the players that Real Madrid have sent out on loan; among those who have stayed, I see too much complacency.

After coming so comprehensively unstuck against a side missing all three members of its first-choice attack, Real Madrid must now take a long, hard look at themselves in the mirror. That's the only way they're going to get to the light at the end of what is a dark, dark tunnel right now.