Round of 16 back – Real Madrid – PSG: Paris is unforgivable

From our special correspondent in Madrid

We thought they had learned, that they had grown up. We thought we wouldn’t see them again. We were naive to believe that PSG was neat. That this time, by getting close and collecting all the biggest stars of this game, he wouldn’t get there. After all, that was the fate of a club that was a finalist and then semi-finalist for the past two seasons. But Paris has been overtaken by the reality of a competition that does not support any drop in tension and that rewards those who know how to suffer together. PSG don’t know how to suffer and have never been together. He fed on illusions in the wake of a Kylian Mbappé who has never been stronger. But if it is no longer enough, as on Wednesday at the Santiago Bernabeu, and the shortcomings come to light, the sanction is immediate.

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So here’s the capital’s club overtaken by its demons. The one from 2017 of course. Just like in Camp Nou, PSG sank themselves when the situation couldn’t escape them. For the fourth time since 2011, he will be eliminated after winning the first leg. No European club has such a devastating record in the Champions League. It’s no longer an accident, it’s a syndrome. Can we imagine the other contenders for the overall victory like Bayern, Liverpool, Manchester City or… Real sinking like this without preparing for it?

On Wednesday, Paris inevitably fell apart, although neither Real’s equalizing goal nor Benzema’s second goal put him out of the race. How do you explain such a blackout? Because faced with the merengue wave, carried by 62,000 people, PSG did not resist a collective solution and everyone disappeared into their corner. In contrast, the collapse caused by the lightness of Gianluigi Donnarumma is collegial.

Was it wrong with Donnarumma? “The whistle can be blown, but that does not explain the black hole of PSG”

Messi, Ramos and the Failure of the Galactic Bet

From the management to the coach, from the players to the environment of a club that has never been able to place the institution above individuals. Everyone has their share of responsibility. In 16 minutes flat, the team destroyed itself. Because of the team, exactly, it’s all too rarely a question. Sporting directors thought it was enough to bring together the best players in the world to march to Europe, forgetting that it is the strength of the collective that has crowned Chelsea, Bayern and Liverpool in recent years.

So if we had to wait for the Champions League verdict, which is all that matters, to judge the arrival of Lionel Messi and Sergio Ramos, the finding is serious and without appeal. The first did nothing decisive, except missing a penalty in 180 minutes against Real when the second, unable to complete two games in a row since arriving, watched the disaster from the stands. Rare satisfaction of the last transfer window, Gianluigi Donnarumma failed at the most critical moment. Leonardo is responsible for sports policy and will be responsible, especially if he fails to keep the only player until the event, the one who has carried this team for months, Kylian Mbappé.

“Less spectacular than the 2017 remontada, but the explosion might be just as important”

Pochettino, Leonardo, QSI: All guilty

This fiasco does not condemn Mauricio Pochettino, whose fate already seemed decided, regardless of the outcome of this round of 16. Unable to give direction and collective cohesion to his group, the Argentine, who hid behind arbitration on Wednesday, pays for his many Faults: his desire not to establish a clear hierarchy in the goal, his inability to take control of his dressing room, his constant passivity. As soon as the wind lifted on the Bernabeu, his house of cards collapsed precisely because he was missing a foundation due to the mess of current events in L1.

He ends his adventure with a resounding failure, but it is not certain whether he regrets Paris, who for a long time seemed tired from the events. For could he at least have control over a group that he did not choose, over individualities that were imposed on him? QSI has never put its coaches in the conditions necessary for their success and it is unsurprising today that none of them have left their mark, although Thomas Tuchel remains, let’s not forget, the last manager to win the Champions League.

Mauricio Pochettino

Credit: Getty Images

What if Paris no longer dreamed bigger?

Now is the time to find a new mantra, as the successive disappointments never stop making the Parisian “Dream bigger” old-fashioned. What if PSG stops dreaming once and for all? What if he changed software? What if he started to learn from his mistakes? What if he accepted reality and embarked on a new model, no doubt less flashy but perhaps better suited to the demands of the Champions League? It’s definitely not his DNA. But this one then continues to condemn it in Europe, both to change it.

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