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PSG vs Man City: Six things we learned from Champions League first leg


Manchester City edged one step closer to the Champions League final with an impressive 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in their semi-final first-leg tie on Wednesday night.

Pep Guardiola’s side, who are chasing the trophy they so desperately crave, came from behind to take a big advantage back to the Etihad for the return.

Mauricio Pochettino’s Ligue 1 giants travel to England next week with it all to do and here, Sportsmail takes a look at the things we learned from part one in France and, perhaps where the last-four tie could be won or lost…

Manchester City edged one step closer to the Champions League final with 2-1 win over PSG

Manchester City edged one step closer to the Champions League final with 2-1 win over PSG

PSG’s defensive issues come to the fore

It all started so well for PSG with captain Marquinhos firing them ahead in the 15th minute. 

While star forwards Kylian Mbappe and Neymar were contained by the City defence, PSG’s defensive limitations were there for all to see.

First PSG No 1 Keylor Navas did not cover himself in glory as a Kevin De Bruyne cross somehow found its way into the back of his net. The former Real Madrid goalkeeper anticipated a touch that never came, leaving the ball to go straight in.

Keylor Navas (L) did not cover himself in glory as a Kevin De Bruyne cross somehow went in

Keylor Navas (L) did not cover himself in glory as a Kevin De Bruyne cross somehow went in

Less than 10 minutes later PSG’s wall crumbled to allow Riyad Mahrez to put City in front through a tame free-kick. 

Presnel Kimpembe and Leandro Paredes jumped sideways instead of facing the strike head on, which left a gaping hole for Mahrez’s effort to travel through.

Former City goalkeeper Joe Hart slammed PSG players for failing to do their jobs while his fellow BT Sport pundit Owen Hargreaves insisted Mahrez’s set-piece was ‘terrible’.

‘Natural instinct is to move out the way but you have to fight that on the pitch. They have not done their job and they have lost the game,’ Hart told BT Sport.

Less than 10 minutes later PSG's wall crumbled to allow Riyad Mahrez to put City in front

Less than 10 minutes later PSG’s wall crumbled to allow Riyad Mahrez to put City in front

‘They have let human nature come in and not stood up for their team. It is almost impossible to save it.

‘You know from the trajectory of ball you can breathe a sigh of relief as it is hitting wall. But his [Navas’] reaction time is almost none. He would presume it was being dealt with.’

Hargreaves added: ‘It is actually a terrible free-kick from Mahrez, but it looked more intricate than it was. That ball should never make it to the goal.’ 

Kylian Mbappe will be fired up

Kylian Mbappe endured a night to forget and he’ll be more determined than ever to make up for a disappointing display in the second leg next week.

Expected to dazzle, like he did in the quarter-final win over Bayern Munich, the 22-year-old was well below par and was given a rating of just 3/10 – the lowest of the PSG side – by French newspaper L’Equipe.

The striker failed to muster a single shot on target for the first time ever in a Champions League game.

His impact on the match was so minimal that he only accumulated 30 touches in 90 minutes. Even City goalkeeper Ederson managed 31 touches. 

While City’s defence of Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, John Stones and Joao Cancelo were strong in nullifying Mbappe’s pace and skill, the Frenchman was not at it and will want to put that right.

Kylian Mbappe endured a night to forget and he'll be determined to make up for it next week

Kylian Mbappe endured a night to forget and he’ll be determined to make up for it next week

City’s frailties at corners exposed

City have by far the best defensive record in the Premier League and their commanding defensive unit kept Neymar and Co quiet.

However there was a sign of vulnerability at corners. Marquinhos headed home from an Angel Di Maria set-piece with ease in the opening stages of the game.

The PSG skipper was far too easily allowed to make a run to the near post and glanced the ball past Ederson after finding space in between Cancelo and Dias.

PSG captain Marquinhos was allowed to score too easily from an Angel Di Maria corner kick

PSG captain Marquinhos was allowed to score too easily from an Angel Di Maria corner kick

City used a combination of zonal and man-to-man marking but their players were just bystanders as Marquinhos got his head on the ball.

Guardiola’s side have conceded the fewest goals from set-pieces in England’s top flight this campaign. But there is a glimmer that they could be at risk when facing a dead-ball next week. PSG have an area to target. 

Riyad Mahrez puts in a shift

City winger Mahrez was the match winner after De Bruyne let him take the free-kick that sealed victory over PSG but he also did more than his bit for the team.

BT Sport co-commentator Jermaine Jenas highlighted Mahrez’s impressive workrate after the Algeria international tackled Neymar in his own box.

Not normally associated with the defensive side of the game, Mahrez hurried and hassled the opposition all night and led from the front with City’s press.

The 30-year-old has been a key player for City in the Champions League this season and has supplied two assists and notched two goals in their last four matches in Europe.

There’s no doubt over his ability with the ball in the final third but it was his work without possession that didn’t go unnoticed at the Parc des Princes. 

Riyad Mahrez (R) not only scored the winning goal but did his bit for the team and worked hard

Riyad Mahrez (R) not only scored the winning goal but did his bit for the team and worked hard

Marquinhos steps up… again  

A trait of a good captain is to lead by example and the PSG skipper does just that on the biggest stage of all.

The 26-year-old scored his third Champions League goal this term to get his side off and running in the first leg. 

The Brazilian scored in their 3-1 group stage win over Manchester United and bagged a vital goal in their 3-2 win over Bayern Munich in the first leg of their quarter-final clash. Marquinhos was sidelined for their 1-0 defeat by the Bundesliga side a week later.

He is the man for the big occasion. The defender scored at the last-eight and semi-final stage against Atalanta and RB Leipzig respectively en route to the Champions League final last season.

Marquinhos has called on his PSG team-mates to show a ‘warrior mentality’ to turn things around in the second leg and it’ll be no surprise if he’s the one leading the siege. 

Brazilian defender Marquinhos performed on the big stage once again, scoring the opener

Brazilian defender Marquinhos performed on the big stage once again, scoring the opener

Phil Foden fits right in

City academy graduate Foden showed his worth in the £1billion match. 

Among the embarrassment of riches on display on Wednesday night it was their young midfielder, who cost City absolutely nothing, that proved he can cut it at the highest level.

The 20-year-old England international has seized the opportunity given to him by Guardiola this season and not looked back. The manager has nurtured the talented individual and how City are now reaping the rewards.

City academy graduate Phil Foden proved he can cut it at the highest level on Wednesday

City academy graduate Phil Foden proved he can cut it at the highest level on Wednesday

Ex-City defender Joleon Lescott insisted Foden is ahead of De Bruyne as the most important player in City’s team prior to their 2-1 win.

‘I would argue that Phil is the most important player in the team,’ Lescott told BT Sport.

‘In the club, you would say Kevin De Bruyne, he has got the contract to suggest that, but on current form and impact in games, Phil Foden for me is the most important player.

Foden produced another impressive display on the left flank in the £1billion game in France

Foden produced another impressive display on the left flank in the £1billion game in France

‘He contributes so much to the team going forward, his energy, he leads the line with work-rate off the ball and his quality in possession is second to none.’

Foden, who has notched 14 goals and provided nine assists in 45 games this term, produced another impressive display on the left flank. 

Add unfazed by the moment to the case that Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate should start him at the Euros this summer.



Source | DailyMail

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