French press react to PSG's latest Champions League failure
Of course, it had to be Real Madrid's French striker, who had been pushed aside for his country, that delivered the knockout blow to the Parisien giants.
Once again, Paris Saint-Germain failed in their 12-year dream of winning the Champions League. In a rather erratic performance, one where a fragile core was exposed once the superficial superstardom was nullified, the Parisians lost 3-1 on their visit to the Santiago Bernabeu and said goodbye to the top continental competition in the last 16. This elimination did not go unnoticed by the French critics, who have pointed their angry fingers at several players.
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The first of those targeted is Mauricio Pochettino. The Argentinian coach is practically gone from PSG after his team's premature elimination from the Champions League. "Pochettino out," says Le Parisien, which criticises the lack of improvement in his approach and on-field management at the Bernabeu. Di Maria's late substitution, when PSG were already 3-1 down, was seen as one of the most controversial of his decisions in the French media.
Another of those singled out is Leonardo. The sporting director has been harshly criticised by Le Parisien after conducting a transfer window that has not paid off in Paris. Donnaruma's mistake in Real Madrid's first goal, together with Ramos' constant injuries, Wijnaldum's intermittent performance and Messi's occasional apathy, have been enough reasons to question the Brazilian's future in Paris. In the summer, PSG will decide whether or not they want to continue with Leonardo in what could be a busy summer transfer window in the French capital.
Regarding the match, L'Équipe was highly critical of both Donnarumma and Marquinhos. The Italian was directly involved in Benzema's goal and the PSG captain looked a risk for most of the night. The French newspaper gave them both a 2 in their ratings, and also failed Kimpembe, giving him just a 3, Achraf a 4 and Neymar, who was also handed a 4 despite assisting PSG's only goal of the night. Results drive these ratings, and how different they must have looked at half-time.
"Donnarumma catastrophic. Pochettino lost the gamble,” read L'Équipe. The Argentine gambled on the Italian for the second time in the tie against Real Madrid and, paradoxically, ended up paying the consequences of his decision. Although the former Milan player's first half was very good, the mistake for Benzema's first goal feels like it set the tone for PSG thereafter, who went from a potent mix to a diluted cocktail in the space of few minutes. All this as Keylor Navas watches on.
The general view on both Messi and Mbappé was relatively kind. They were far from the reason for this elimination. “He was helpless as PSG faded away. There is no reason to complain about his game," Le Parisien wrote about the young French star likely to be playing on a regular basis at the Bernabéu very soon.