Without Kylian Mbappé, who landed on the lawn in tennis shoes, the Paris-SG was gently beaten (0-2) by a Manchester City while in control, who had already won on the way to the Parc des princes. No second consecutive Champions League final for the Parisian team, which will now have to tackle a double project: to re-sign Neymar and Mbappé (at the end of the contract in June 2022) since they are the alpha and the omega of this club and, in the very short term, save a title of champion of France which has not escaped them since 2018.
Something dantesque and a little magical will have accompanied the Parisian team throughout the competition, from the two defeats in the first three group matches and life on a wire before Christmas (a manager swore to us that he would not not have doubted for a second) and the snow of Munich: it hailed on Tuesday on the Etihad Stadium before the match, then it snowed, then it rained. And the players warmed up on their tiptoes, as if they had to tame a lawn where the ball left a white trail in its wake. Middle low cost Parisian side: Leandro Paredes, the friend of Neymar, the one who makes the big eyes every time we attack the Brazilian, and Ander Herrera, of which the least we can say is that he does not subjugate his teammates since joining the club in 2019.
This side “team with holes” will quickly catch up with PSG. Landed this summer, right-back Alessandro Florenzi is a precise centralizer but a dubious defender. On a raise from the Mancunian goalkeeper, he leaves a boulevard to his direct opponent Oleksandr Zinchenko, who has more time than it takes to find a teammate: a billiard shot later, Riyad Mahrez puts City in front (1- 0, 12e). The Parisian defender Marquinhos puts a ball on the top of the bar (17th), his winger Angel Di Maria strikes next to the empty goal while the City doorman left on the mop (19th): something turns against the Parisians, whatever they do, despite what the men trained by Mauricio Pochettino are furious, violent in their determination and their hearts at work.
But City have the antidote: these long sequences of conservation of the ball to freeze the match, sometimes to the point of refusing shots that seem promising by just raising the level of risk of the pass. And as the same, at the loss of the ball, defend (very) low block, Marquinhos and others also offer themselves long sequences of possession to seek the fault: 1-0 to the lemons and the paradoxical impression of a City which maneuver while undergoing, passing between the drops by a way of collective intelligence and a protean side.
To the rhythm of the stars’ karma
On returning from the locker room, one detail strikes: Neymar’s folds not in the defensive phase (that would be good, a sign of altruism) but when the Parisians have the ball. Since 2017 that we have the Brazilian under our nose every week when he is not injured, we have had time to understand: he will look for the ball when he considers that his teammates are unfamiliar with building, a sign of mistrust . At the same time, the Parisians are starting to leave those behind – including Marquinhos, once again royal – in one against one against the Mancunian attackers, because time passes and it is necessary to take risks.
And since the match is on a wire, the smallest imbalance costs candy: Phil Foden spins behind Florenzi’s back (again him) and finds Mahrez who sends PSG to the hangers (2-0, 64th). The Paris-SG being an eruptive team, which lives to the rhythm of the more or less dark karma of its stars, it will crack in great widths. A sole of Di Maria on Fernandinho – who will have provoked the Parisians all the match, from the first minute – will be worth an expulsion to the Argentinian (69th), Marco Verratti and Danilo will not go far from a similar sanction and it is a parable: a team based on a handful of players rather than on a long-term game plan is by definition less stable, less secure.
And when the brightest of them is missing, it being understood that Mbappé was almost as absent on the outward journey (no shot attempted in ninety minutes) as on the return, always comes a moment. where his teammates are overtaken by a form of loneliness when the tide is low. First Champions League final for ten years for Pep Guardiola, on May 29 in Istanbul, against Real Madrid or Chelsea who will be explained on Wednesday.