Tuesday night was all about Kylian Mbappé, the pre-match spotlight trained firmly on the PSG forward. His move to Real Madrid in the summer is so widely anticipated to happen that it was a difficult game for the 23-year-old, who nevertheless displayed his undoubted greatness as a player, a greatness that was rooted in the calmness with which he approached the game: determined, resolute, insistent, a leader. He ran rings around Dani Carvajal, provoked the penalty that Thibaut Courtois saved from Leo Messi and wriggled free of Lucas Vázquez and Éder Militão in stoppage time to score the decisive goal. It was a good goal as well, full of science and spark. A goal that underlines his status as a great player and did the minimum of justice to the scoreboard.
And I say minimum because Madrid were so inferior that 1-0 could be said to be a good result, however much it may seem the opposite, given that in the 93rd minute the score remained 0-0. Over the course of the game, PSG had 22 attempts, with eight on target, compared to four for Madrid, none of which troubled Gianluigi Donnarumma. On this occasion in the Parc des Princes, two of Madrid’s most fundamental components, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric, failed to find a foothold in the game. Karim Benzema, who was visibly not fully fit, failed to connect with them. As such, Madrid were subdued, unadventurous, waiting for the clock to tick along with the least damage possible. Only a fine display of defensive concentration and Courtois’ brilliance delayed the inevitable. Sooner or later, PSG’s goal was going to come.
Casemiro suspension a huge blow for Madrid
As well as defeat in Paris, Madrid face two big problems for the return leg in the Bernabéu: suspensions for Casemiro and Ferland Mendy after they were booked. It is also likely that Neymar, who was only able to make an appearance as a substitute on Tuesday after a lengthy injury layoff, will be in perfect condition for the decisive game in Madrid. The absence of Casemiro, in my opinion, is the biggest blow for Carlo Ancelotti. The Brazilian is the cornerstone of Madrid’s side, and he has been in excellent form of late after an indifferent start to the season. The panorama is bleak for Madrid, but there are slivers of light: the Bernabéu will be in full voice, away goals do not count in the Champions League this season and the fact that Ancelotti’s side can’t possibly play two games of such poor quality in the space of three weeks.