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No Neymar, no Mbappe, no Cavani but no problem for PSG as they profited from the Immutable Law of the Ex. Angel Di Maria did not want to leave Real Madrid five years ago, and certainly did not want to go to Manchester United for a miserable season before fleeing to Paris, and so this revenge was five years in the making with the PSG winger scoring twice and tearing his former club apart.
In doing so Di Maria heaped the pressure on Real coach Zinedine Zidane who will be aware of another ex – Jose Mourinho – who is waiting to see whether the man who delivered three Champions League title for the Spanish giants is going to survive much longer on his own second coming. Results like this will only heighten the growing expectation that he will not with Zidane’s big summer signing Eden Hazard struggling before eventually being substituted. Gareth Bale also went off and was not acknowledged by Zidane who stood rooted to the edge of the technical area throughout.
It may have only been the opening game in a group which both clubs can expect to progress but Real are in a downward spiral and it will hurt that they lost to a team who had Mbappe and Cavani out injured and Neymar banned for two matches following his social media rant at the officials after PSG’s Champions League exit last season to United. Maybe without them PSG played more as a team with Idrissa Gana Gueye also excellent.
There were, in fact, more French players in the Real side than in PSG’s and, conversely, more Spanish representing PSG. To add to the reversal the home side were wearing their all-white, third kit and the visitors were in dark blue. Confused? Real seemed to be, for sure.
And so it was maybe also appropriate that it was a player who used to play for the other team who opened the scoring – and then doubled it. Di Maria claimed his first goal with Marquinhos’s header being cleverly flicked on by Mauro Icardi – on his first start since his loan move from Inter Milan – to the overlapping Juan Bernat whose cross was met first-time by Di Maria to neatly beat Thibaut Courtois at his near post.
And so the fans cranked it up even further. “A mythical stadium. An historic city. Paris is magic!” read a giant tifo prior to kick-off at the Auteuil end of the ground where the PSG ultras congregate and the drums beat ever louder with smoke from the flares drifting across the stadium.
For Real it was a first outing for – maybe – their new front three of Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Eden Hazard and BBH almost caused some GBH to PSG’s chances when the ball broke to Hazard only for the Belgian to shoot narrowly wide. Real went even closer when Bale was brought down by Idrissa Gueye just outside the penalty area and picked himself up to whip a free-kick which skimmed the roof of the net.
Gueye’s next involvement was far better when he fed the ball into Di Maria. On the edge of the area the Real defenders stood off and Di Maria took advantage to catch out Courtois with a fierce shot, just inside the other post from his first goal, to double the advantage. In the stands Mbappe and Neymar giggled in celebration with David Beckham – another who had played for both clubs - also among the onlookers. There was more fire from the fans.
Angel Di Maria is on fire ��— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 18, 2019
He bags his second goal of the first half vs Real Madrid with a sweet strike!
Neymar and Mbappe loved that one �� pic.twitter.com/JAswjUH1lC
From the kick-off it appeared Real had dampened that down and struck back when Bale, superbly it seemed, juggled the ball three, four times with his left foot before lifting it over goalkeeper Keylor Navas with his right. What a goal. But, hang on. English referee Anthony Taylor eventually went to the side of the pitch, after consulting with the VAR Stuart Attwell, and it was clear that Bale had handled the ball as he brought it under control with the goal being disallowed.
Di Maria should have completed his hat-trick when the former Everton midfielder Gueye, impressively tenacious, again won the ball back with Marco Verratti pushing it into the path of the winger. With just Courtois to beat he attempted to chip the goalkeeper with the ball landing on the roof of the net. He almost made amends soon after when he received a pass and turned sharply inside the area to square the ball to Pablo Sarabia who had to do better than shooting narrowly wide.
In injury-time PSG did claim the third goal they deserved as they broke away with Di Maria sending Thomas Meunier through. The right-back picked out the other full-back, Bernat, somehow also so far forward, and he returned the pass for Meunier to steer into the net with Courtois stranded. It summed up Real’s forlorn night.
PSG were excellent tonight and could have easily finished 4-0 or 5-0 up. Nothing should be taken away from Real Madrid though, who were equally dreadful. Passionless, tame, dull, predictable and plain bad. Well played PSG!
Brilliant from PSG. Absolutely superb. Meunier scores to make it 3-0!
PSG 3 Real Madrid 0
Meunier starts the move, runs to receive a pass from a one-two as Real Madrid are carved open. It's awful defending, PSG have a two v one and Bernat chips back across the box for Meunier to finish into an empty net.
90 mins - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
Sarabia off, Diallo on. I don't know where Zidane even starts analysing this one - nobody turned up tonight. Benzema might be the only one who gets away without a hiding.
PSG are away!
88 mins - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
PSG pushing for a third goal and Real Madrid players are sliding into 50/50s, getting lucky with a couple. Sarabia looks like he's won a penalty for a second or two but play continues and Veratti is wiped out by Vasquez.
Real Madrid still haven't had a shot on target. They spent roughly £350million in the summer.
85 mins - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
Choupo-Moting runs from left to centre, controls the ball and shoots a volley over the bar. Decent effort. That's Choupo-Moting ex of Stoke.
83 mins - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
There's a bit of a rammy now as Bernat power smashes the ball away as Vinicius slides in near the touchline. Di Maria is fired up and runs over to get involved, for no real reason, and the referee shows a yellow card to the young Real Madrid winger.
Real Madrid still playing this as though it's a testimonial.
80 mins - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
Real Madrid have started pressing high and trying to win the ball up the pitch. It works too as PSG hand over possession and Zidane's team can apply some pressure. A cross from the right finds Benzema at the back post! But he heads wide.
Bale goes off for Vinicius Junior.
78 mins - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
GOAL DISALLOWED. Real Madrid have the ball in the back of the net and this one is quite controversial. Vasquez is offside and drops back as Benzema launches a shot into the side of the net, and though he doesn't touch the ball, he's definitely interfering with play.
75 mins - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
A few zipped passes and yet again PSG open Real Madrid's defence wide open. Choupo-Moting, who was bad for Stoke, gets in behind again but his attempted cross goes behind for a goal kick. Real are playing like they know they're beaten and just want to go home.
72 mins - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
Di Maria takes a corner from the left, it's headed away and PSG keep the ball. Gueye has been the best player on the pitch by a mile, as he often was last season in the Premier League.
70 mins - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
James Rodriguez goes off, Luka Jovic comes on.
Ander Herrera is on for Marquinhos, who has cramp.
68 mins - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
I'm pretty sure PSG fans are singing a version of 'Magic Moments' or at least a chant based on a song which is a rip-off of Magic Moments.
I know it's early but I think it's safe to say Real Madrid aren't winning the Champions League this season. Hazard goes on a little dribble to try and catch me out but isn't quite on his game yet and is easily tackled.
65 mins - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
Sarabia makes a real mess of an easy through ball into Choupo-Moting (yes, that one) who would have been clean in on goal. Real Madrid putting up about as much of a defence as... I can't think of anything good right now but trust me, if I had, it would have been great. You would have been like 'wow what a great writer, he really painted a picture there'.
62 mins - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
SARABIAAAAAA! Just wide! Di Maria is constantly in space and able to turn at goal! It's dreadful defending from Real Madrid, nobody taking responsibility and sorting things out and a stabbed cross from Di Maria is turned past the near post. It should be about three or four for PSG by now.
60 mins - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
I'm not sure I understand what Real Madrid's defensive plan is here. They're dropping off and letting PSG come at them but then don't engage and break down attacks, allowing Gueye to dance through into the box before a last ditch tackle saves the goalkeeper a job.
Shortly after that a turnover in the final third gives PSG an overload! Di Maria is in and must score! He chips the goalkeeper... and ends up scooping the ball over the bar. That's a bad miss.
57 mins - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
"Look at that. Who's that for?!" asks Keown incredulously as Casemiro hits a stupid pass straight out for a throw. PSG are defending really well here, blocking at halfway, dropping a bit deeper and waiting for a chance to break.
54 mins - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
Kroos shapes up like he's going to curl a shot top corner but it's disguise for a move onto his left foot... and that shot is blocked. Real Madrid playing much better football than the first half but still no real opportunities created.
51 mins - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
Di Maria runs towards the box but ends up giving away the ball when he hits a dead end. Martin Keown and some others are still crying about Gareth Bale's goal being ruled out, forgetting that he's handballed it. It's a handball. Get over it.
48 mins - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
Real Madrid playing with a bit more... I don't want to say 'intensity' but it does seem like they're engaging PSG higher up the pitch and trying to get stuck in.
KICK OFF 2
And we're back. No changes so far.
PSG really pushing Real Madrid back here. It's interesting how Di Maria isn't really a wide left forward but is actually touching the ball more behind a front two. Effectively, he is free to roam and help create overloads on that side against Carvajal, which makes sense as Gareth Bale never comes back to defend, leaving PSG 2 v 1 in that wide area. That's how they scored the first.
Keylor Navas can fly
Neither team at their best but PSG are absolutely the better side and entirely deserve their lead. Zidane needs to get his players to up their levels - there's nothing wrong tactically but they're second to every 50/50 and don't look a threat.
45 mins +2 - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
And all of a sudden, just as I'm slagging them off, Real Madrid produce a shot from nothing. Bale gets a chance to shoot on the edge of the area and smashes it wide of the near post. He's been their best player tonight.
45 mins - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
This is as poor a Real Madrid performance as I can remember seeing in the last few years. They can pass into midfield but as soon as they get there everything breaks down. That could, of course, be because PSG are defending so well, leaving no space between the lines, staying compact and forcing play wide then backwards.
42 mins - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
PSG are much the better side here. Real are retreating and unable to win the ball back, PSG keep moving it and end up with a corner as a nice move on the edge of the area nearly opens up the defence.
39 mins - PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
Icardi uses his strength to shield the ball and pivot to shoot on his left inside the area. There's not enough power in his effort on goal though and the goalie saves easily.
Anthony Taylor has gone to view the incident on a screen. The ball has hit Bale's arm but that's just as his arm is coming across his body. And VAR says...
Ohhhhhh baby. Oh me oh my. Gareth Bale with a moment of magic to make it 2-1!
PSG 2 Real Madrid 1
Buuuuuut the referee is having it checked with VAR for a handball somewhere. The ball has bounced off his hand so technically it might be a foul but that is unbelievably harsh if so. It'll be funny if it's turned down.
OOOOHHHHHH WHAT A GOAL! Superb strike by Di Maria again!
PSG 2 Real Madrid 0
Idrissa Gueye makes this one by chasing the ball, anticipating where it's going and jumping to take it down with a leap off the ground. He passes it on to Di Maria, who takes a moment and plants a shot from 25 yards to bury the ball in the sidenetting away from Courtois.
33 mins - PSG 1 Real Madrid 0
Glad it wasn't just me, even if I took 30 seconds.
Did anyone else take 10 minutes to figure out PSG were playing in white & 'Los Blancos' were in blue?!?— COPA90 (@Copa90) September 18, 2019
Bale has just bent a free-kick over the bar, kissing the top net on its way out. Great hit.... but is it? Because he's missed.
30 mins - PSG 1 Real Madrid 0
PSG look nicely balanced here. The midfield is very neat and tidy and they've got speed and creativity further forward. Martin Keown reckons Real Madrid need to work on the spacing between their lines of defending players.
27 mins - PSG 1 Real Madrid 0
PSG, the white team, try to work around the final third but Real Madrid, the blue team, drop back. Still pretty tame. And then out of nowhere an early cross to the box over the top of Real's defence finds Di Maria in space. He can't quite reach it and Courtois collects.
24 mins - PSG 1 Real Madrid 0
Hazard glides away from a defender, spreads the play, Carvajal goes for a cross and it's a throw to PSG. This game hasn't really started yet.
22 mins - PSG 1 Real Madrid 0
Benzema tees up James for a shot outside the area but at no point in his run does it look like he'll arrive ready to take a decent effort. The ball ends up somewhere over the bar.
Real try to move the ball forward but James gives it away with a risky effort between the lines.
19 mins - PSG 1 Real Madrid 0
PSG let Real bring the ball forward then break on the counter. Gueye's attempted switch pass doesn't work and the move fizzles out.
Really tidy midfield play from PSG. Lots of short snappy balls being zipped about.
16 mins - PSG 1 Real Madrid 0
Close! Hazard gets a chance to shoot on his right from outside the box but his low effort is just wide. Martin Keown keeps saying Jonathan Pearce's name, every time he speaks, almost as if he'd forgotten it earlier and is making sure it isn't obvious this time.
DI MARIA SCORES!
PSG 1 Real Madrid 0
PSG double up on the left and a quick one two allows Bernat to overlap and hit a low cross to the near post. Di Maria is there and stabs at it with his toe, keeping the ball low and poking it past Courtois!
13 mins - PSG 0 Real Madrid 0
Real Madrid defending in a 4-5-1, getting quite compact in the middle of the pitch as the full-back tracks the opposition winger. PSG are passing around the midfield now though and suddenly they're in behind!
11 mins - PSG 0 Real Madrid 0
Great pace from Mendy to outrun Sarabia and recover possession. Nothing's really happening at the moment, Real Madrid growing into the game slowly and putting passes together in midfield.
8 mins - PSG 0 Real Madrid 0
Keylor Navas is in goal for PSG which will be nice for Real Madrid fans. Good old Keylor. A Champions League winning goalkeeper that nobody can quite decide is good or not. He's just caught a low cross into the area from Bale.
6 mins - PSG 0 Real Madrid 0
I've still not adjusted to PSG being the team in white. It's really confusing. Neither team is able to keep the ball in the final third, it's being pinged about the midfield then given away.
4 mins - PSG 0 Real Madrid 0
Idrissa Gueuye, star of Everton's midfield, 'fouls' Kroos and denies Icardi the chance to run through on goal and score a one v one. Seemed a very soft decision... but the referee is English so it can't have been. They love big tackles, those dastardly English.
2 mins - PSG 0 Real Madrid 0
I lied earlier because PSG actually kicked off but are wearing an all white kit despite being the home side. Real Madrid are in a navy blue sort of colour as the away team despite this, as you will have noticed, being the exact opposite of what should happen.
Here we go! Real start the game.
The players are in the tunnel just now preparing to head out and let Zinedine Zidane start his shot at winning the Champions League. Imagine he did it again. Imagine Bale was the player to win it for him. Think of the narrative. And here comes the theme tune THE CHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAMPIONS.
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It's a lovely night
The sky is purple, the grass is green, the football is round. I'd really like it if Neymar were playing but he's suspended, hence the inclusion of Mauro Icardi and Pablo Sarabia in addition to Angel Di Maria in PSG's attack.
Hello there and welcome to El Cashico, or Le Expensive Derby, or something else made up on the spot, by me, right now, even though this is in no way a derby. It's two teams with billions of pounds, packed full of superstars... and neither are particularly great at the moment. Well, PSG will always dominate in France but they've never made it all the way in the Champions League, and Real Madrid are in something of a transition period. And by that I mean that they are transitioning from being European champions to something not as good as that.
The teams are in and this is what they look like:
The big news is clearly that Eden Hazard starts! As does James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale, those two players that Zinedine Zidane doesn't even want. Strange things going on at Real Madrid these days.
The Bale situation is a particularly odd one with Zidane quite clearly not a fan of the Welshman and hopeful he'd just leave last season and free up an enormous slot on the wage bill for players the manager wanted, even though Bale won him a Champions League final on his own. That bicycle kick was special.
PSG welcome back local hero Neymar, a player Parisian fans love dearly and who showed wonderful commitment to the club over the summer as he did everything possible to weasel a way out of the French capital. He failed at that but what he lacks in transfer negotiations he makes up for in being utterly brilliant on a football pitch and hopefully we see some lovely stuff tonight... except we won't because he's suspended. All down to you, Angel Di Maria.
Kick off is 8pm, stay with us for all the action.