Paris Saint-Germain have crashed out the Champions League for a fourth consecutive year at the quarter-final stage. Manchester City go through 3-2 on aggregate thanks to Kevin De Bruyne’s solitary strike in what was a bitterly disappointing night for Les Parisiens.
Paris were far from the team that have accumulated a 20+ point lead at the top of the Ligue 1. And a shadow of the side that performed so admirably against Chelsea in the previous round. We went out with a whimper but coach Laurent Blanc is bound to face fierce criticism.
The coach shocked everyone by fielding a 3-5-2 formation. A formation that we have not utilised at any stage this season and it showed. Serge Aurier started as a centre-back alongside Thiago Silva and Marquinhos with the Ivorian proving to be a real weak link. His lack of first-team football last week was evident for all to see, as it was last night. He gave the ball away on countless occasions, including a misplaced pass that resulted in the concession of a penalty by Kevin Trapp in the first-half. Sergio Aguero thankfully at the time fluffed his lines by putting the ball miles wide.
Maxwell and Gregory Van der Wiel played as wing-backs with Adrien Rabiot and Thiago Motta in the middle as Angel Di Maria played just behind Edinson Cavani and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
We were so flat in the first-half, just one shot on target that came from a Zlatan Ibrahimovic freekick. All the possession in the world but with little substance. The 3-5-2 was proving to be a hindrance more than anything. It just wasn’t working.
We were dealt a blow when Motta had to come off injured and was replaced by Lucas Moura. Marquinhos would end up in the centre of midfield to fill the void but after the break he would drop back at centre-back as we reverted to our standard 4-3-3. It was confusing to watch as a fan and no doubt it confused the players. It was just a mess!
I hate to blame Laurent Blanc, I am a staunch defender of his, but he got it wrong. It stems from the first leg when he played Aurier who had not played first-team football for weeks on end after the whole debacle over his social media outburst. You can also make a case for Lucas who was dropped in favour of Cavani. Had the Brazilian started the game last week in what was an open contest, no doubt he’d have revelled in it.
Paris were lucky not to go into the interval a goal down as Aguero missed his spot-kick. We improved ever so slightly in the second period but not enough to cause Joe Hart problems. He made an important save from a Zlatan freekick and then tipped over a Thiago Silva header who could have done better in truth.
Kevin De Bruyne, the absolute star of both legs in my opinion, scored a beauty from distance to put the tie to bed. It left Paris needing to score two goals in the final 15 minutes. Cavani missed a golden chance as Hart denied him.
We never really looked like scoring it has to be said. It was a majorly disappointing performance from the lads. We looked as if we were out of ideas; toothless.
As crazy as it sounds, many people in France will now perceive the season as a failure despite all the amazing things we have done domestically. Ultimately, Paris Saint-Germain are being judged on their progress in the Champions League and once again we have come unstuck in the last-eight.
Coach Laurent Blanc will not have made many friends for his tactics and team selection. All of a sudden, the Frenchman is under severe pressure despite signing a contract extension not too long ago.
PSG are once again left to ponder what might have been in Europe. We are still a long way off ever lifting the cup with the big ears.