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PSG 3-0 Real Madrid: What we learnt from this game in terms of tactics | UEFA Champions League 2019-20

20 Sep 2019, 00:11 IST

Zinedine Zidane.
Zinedine Zidane.

The 2019-20 edition of het UEFA Champions League has started with a bang. Last night, Paris Saint-Germain made a perfect start to their campaign, beating Real Madrid by a dominating 3-0 scoreline. Angel Di Maria's brace and Thomas Meunier's injury-time goal helped them seize a comfortable home victory.

Before the game, it was completely unexpected that a team without their superstars (there was no Neymar Jr, Edinson Cavani or Kylian Mbappe in PSG's match-day squad) could showcase this kind of performance against a side filled with experienced professionals.

It was the notable tactical differences between Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid and Thomas Tuchel's Paris Saint-Germain that helped the latter to prevail in the encounter so easily. Before getting into the noteworthy points, let's take a look at how both managers launched their starting line-up.

PSG line-up against Real Madrid
PSG line-up against Real Madrid

Having missed the likes of Cavani, Mbappe and Neymar Jr, Thomas Tuchel oped to start the game with a frontline of Di Maria, Icardi and Sarabia. The three midfielders for the home side were Verratti, Gueye and Marquinhos. The four-man defence contained two full-backs (Bernat and Meunier) and two centre-backs (Silva and Kimpembe), while Keylor Navas made a start under the bars against his former club.  

Real Madrid line-up vs PSG
Real Madrid line-up vs PSG

Zinedine Zidane arranged his side in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Despite Thibaut Courtois' miserable run of form, the manager kept faith in him and handed him another appearance. New signings like Ferland Mendy and Eder Militao paired up with the club's old-timers like Raphael Varane and Dani Carvajal in defence. James Rodriguez, Tonis Kroos and Casemiro were placed in Los Blancos' midfield, with Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Eden Hazard leading the line for Real Madrid.  

Zidane's men were tactically poor:

Although there were a number of tactical weaknesses from Real Madrid's point of view, we are going to mention three major tactical issues that helped PSG triumph.

1. All-out attack


Los Blancos's starting line-up was undoubtedly far better than their counterparts, however, they failed to test PSG's defence. While attacking, Real Madrid were going all out. As a result of which, when PSG won the ball back dispossessing Madrid's forwards, they were certainly looking for a killer counter-attack and Zizou's men, who were high up the pitch, found themselves out of their assigned positions. A bunch of attacks were created by PSG due to Madrid players' over-committing themselves forward.

2. PSG's midfield and defence were more compact:

The gap between PSG's defence and midfield was very small. Hence, Real Madrid took several shots from outside of the box. Last night, they managed to take 10 shots throughout the ninety minutes of the match, while six were taken outside of the box. Nevertheless, they left Parc des Princes with 0% shooting accuracy. Real Madrid taking shots from outside the box naturally shows how disciplined PSG players were in one of the midweek's mega encounters.

3. Man-to-man pressing helped PSG a lot

There was a huge gap between Real Madrid
There was a huge gap between Real Madrid's midfield and defence-line

During the first-half of the match, Real Madrid players were overcommitting themselves while attacking. Though they were heavy in numbers, PSG stuck with their gameplan and pressed on Los Blancos' forwards with immense determination. The tactic for PSG was to press one forward by one midfielder or defender.

Midfielders did their job precisely and directly passed the ball to a winger who started a counter-attack without wasting any time. This tactic helped PSG produce several deadly attacks during the first-half of the game. In the second half, Real Madrid played like a balanced side, however, Thomas Meunier's added-time goal handed them a shambolic setback.

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