Qualified but assured of not being able to finish first in its group, PSG looked poorly on Wednesday night, during their defeat against Manchester City in the Champions League. The stars Messi, Neymar and Mbappé were not enough against this well-oiled collective. Elements of the answer in the RMC Sport film of the meeting.
Stars side by side do not always form a collective. PSG may have understood this Wednesday night, losing on the field of Manchester City (2-1), at the same time abandoning the desire to finish at the top of his Champions League group. Qualified for the eighth, the Parisian club was able to measure the gap that separated it from the collective melody set up by Pep Guardiola with his Skyblues.
The RMC Sport film, entitled “FUT”, offers an analysis of the Parisian defeat and the overall performance of Mauricio Pochettino’s players, of the gap between the two teams on the lawn of the Etihad Stadium. A chasm that does not really translate the score but which could be observed throughout the meeting.
The Guardiola-Lillo debates
Among the striking images shown in the film of the match, the endless discussions between Pep Guardiola and the man who whispers in his ear: Juanma Lillo, tactical genius, his assistant since last summer, one of his mentors, met in 2005 in Mexico. Where the coaches often wait for a break or an interruption to talk to each other about a specific technical point, the two men completely redo the action in the middle of a match.
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Pep Guardiola is also listening on his bench that he is animated in his technical area: great gestures, many instructions addressed to his players and even a few passionate and smiling moments with the fourth referee … the former coach Barça is alive when Mauricio Pochettino seems calm, stressed or even passive.
Paris only touches three balls in the opponent’s area and spirits are heating up. Especially between Neymar and Leandro Paredes, the midfielder visibly blaming the Brazilian for a loss of the ball. As a symbol of one of the major problems of this workforce of stars: some defend little or not, withdraw very little, make less effort to replace themselves … At half-time, in the content, there is no there is no photo between the two teams. However, it is with a frank smile that Neymar and Kylian Mbappé return to the lawn.
A sign of the cross for Pochettino on his bench, a symbol of faith in these men? His prayers were heard for a while, when Mbappé opened the scoring in the 50th minute. The stars have had a bang. But at this point in the game, there was an air of heist.
Guardiola’s reaction, Marquinhos’ instructions
Pep Guardiola does not stand still: after a discussion with his staff, he calls Gabriel Jesus and tells him to come home. Mauricio Pochettino, meanwhile, slips some instructions to Marquinhos, who reports them in particular to Presnel Kimpembe and Achraf Hakimi. Kylian Mbappé gives encouragement to Neymar, asking him to go forward as soon as the Parisians have the ball.
Neymar-Mahrez, new act
In the semifinals last season, they had already warmed up. Neymar and Riyad Mahrez put it back on Wednesday … with insults, spikes in tension and strollers. The Algerian laughed at it. The Brazilian much less.
Manchester City equalized on a school action, one that Pep Guardiola has tirelessly made his players repeat for years: by dismissing the game on the wing – using the call of a side, in the ‘Kyle Walker occurrence – with a one-touch cross in the middle. It was Raheem Sterling, a little off-center to the left, who came back to equalize shortly after the hour mark.
Sterility and individual failure VS collective efficiency
The reaction of Parisians? 43-pass action. Sterile. Concluded on a very big failure of Neymar who, with a magic control, had done the hardest. All that for this. Because behind, in the 76th minute, Gabriel Jesus – yes yes, the solution found by Guardiola after the opening of the Parisian scoring – scored the winning goal on a new school action. Collective.
Pep Guardiola is inhabited, moves in all directions … and gets picked up by his assistant Juanma Lillo, who tells him to calm down as he swings his bottle and gets angry.
The ghost Messi
One man was transparent: Lionel Messi, the man for major meetings with Barça, the one who finds a solution, unblocks a situation with a stroke of genius. Above all, the Argentinian walked, unable to act. Neither offensively nor defensively. Nothing. Arrived this summer in megastar, the six-fold Golden Ball has given way to a ghost. And the film concludes: “You can’t buy your dreams, you build them.” Football is a team sport, not a stack of stars. What the Parisians have, at least in this match, probably forgotten.