The first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals saw a clinical Manchester City come from behind to beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday. Earlier on Tuesday, Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea managed to level their fixture 1-1 against 13-time European Champions Real Madrid in their quest to reach the finals of the competition.
Here’s our analysis of the first leg of the Champions League semi-finals:
Paris Saint-Germain 1 – 2 Manchester City:
Manchester City showed their cool composure and combined it with superb tactics to beat Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 on Wednesday. Pep Guardiola’s men were 1-0 down at half-time, but the Premier League leaders never lost their nerve in a tie crucial for their aim of a quadruple this season.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men put on a scintillating display in the first half, with Neymar leading the charge. It took all of Manchester City’s resolve to fend off the repeated attacks, and the goal difference would have been much higher if not for City’s disciplined approach. But PSG lost their discipline once Kevin De Bruyne levelled the scores in the 64th minute and Riyad Mahrez put City on top with a free-kick.
The frustration among the Parisians was evident when Idrissa Gana Gueye was shown a straight red card for a poor challenge on Ilkay Gundogan. Pep Guardiola was able to use Kevin De Bruyne brilliantly in the second half, taking possession away from PSG and not allowing Neymar and Kylian Mbappe any chance to build counter-attacks.
Chelsea 1 – 1 Real Madrid:
Thomas Tuchel’s side put on a composed performance to secure a draw against the in-form Real Madrid at the Spanish Capital on Tuesday. The Blues also managed to add a crucial away goal to the aggregate tally, which gives them the upper hand heading into the second leg of the fixture at Stamford Bridge in a week.
Chelsea were superior on a rainy night right from the start, and Christian Pulisic rewarded a bright start from the visitors with a calm finish on 14 minutes. They should have scored even earlier in the night, but Timo Werner shot straight into Thibaut Courtois. Real Madrid had to regroup quickly, and their go-to man Karim Benzema’s brilliant strike saw the Blues’ lead end after just fifteen minutes in the first half. Karim Benzema also made history for Real Madrid as he moved level with Real legend Raul on 71 goals to become the joint fourth-highest scorer in Champions League history.
Both teams were impressive in the second half, but neither could find a breakthrough required to break the tie. But with an away goal in their kitty, it was Thomas Tuchel who came out of the fixture with a smile on his face. His young and dynamic side managed to effectively strangle a side full of experience and trophies – Read Madrid’s starting XI have a combined 31 medals between them.
Manchester City remain the favourites to win the Champions League title, and they are eager to claim the quadruple. Their performance against PSG was sublime, showing composure, skill and determination as and when required. Pep Guardiola deserves most of the credit, but the starting XI deserve credit for effectively executing his plans.
Chelsea managed to put up an impressive performance on Tuesday, but Real Madrid are the masters of knock-out rounds. Zinedine Zidane’s men are full of experience and determination, and one bad night will not affect their spirits. Real Madrid won’t be as unbalanced again and they are a ruthless winning team, and they will travel to Stamford Bridge next week as the favourites to advance to finals.
The action will now move to Etihad Stadium and Stamford Bridge next week, where both the English clubs will have a home advantage.
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