Angel di Maria getting drunk on success for PSG, a star being born at Roma and Real Madrid being Real Madrid – here are the Champions League winners and losers
Angel Di Maria
The Argentinean sipping beer with a load of United fans giving him abuse is the image of the night. Di Maria didn’t enjoy his time in Manchester, and had no problems in making it clear.
Hence the reaction of the fans, understandable. But the PSG forward remains a world class player, and showed it, assisting Kyllian Mbappe’s goal and showing everyone at Old Trafford what they have missed, and why he was paid so much initially by the Red Devils.
Paris Saint Germain
A phenomenal performance, putting Paris a step closer to the aristocracy of football. Sure, they still have to win the Champions League, and there’s a long way to go, but similarly to the way they demolished Barcelona in the first left two years ago, the performance and victory at Old Trafford is the kind of night that shows the Parisians are getting to that elite status they’ve been seeking for so long.
Ángel Di María's pass ?@KMbappe's finish ⚽️
A work of art ?
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) February 13, 2019
A star is born. Finally Italy has produced a potentially world class player after a decade of mediocrity. Despite being just 19, he quickly became pivotal to Roma this season, and when the time came, he showed the world why with a tremendous brace on Europe’s biggest stage, scoring a delicious opening goal and not bottling the sitter to make it two. Porto can still knock Roma out in the second leg, but Zaniolo’s growth is here for everyone to enjoy.
Tottenham could still “do a Tottenham” and lose 4-0 in the return match in Dortmund, but a 3-0 lead after the first leg is a pretty decent result, and Pochettino’s work finally getting the European results and recognition it deserves. Without Harry Kane and Dele Alli, the manager’s choices were perfect, and Spurs demolished Dortmund.
The Champions of Europe for a reason. Clinical, on point, in the right place at the right time, always. Ajax were dominant for most of the time. Real Madrid won. Job done (almost).
As Di Maria was running the show for United, Pogba lost the plot, started well and gradually got worse and worse, as did his team mates. Carried downhill by what happened during the game, the French midfielder produced very little for what is expected of him, and got himself sent off for a clumsy challenge in the final minutes.
The Theatre of Dreams turned into the Theatre of Abuse, and defeat, sadly for the Manchester United fans. The Red Devils were torn apart by Paris Saint Germain, and despite the fans trying their best to give former United player Di Maria some stick hoping he wouldn’t perform, their plan was overturned, and Di Maria was dominant.
It seems all over, after just one single game. The match against Spurs was meant to be one of the most balanced encounters out of the entire Round of 16 of the Champions League. The balance lasted just 45 minutes, then Tottenham raised the level and pace of the game and put three past Lucien Favre’s men. It will be tough to turn things around.
A phenomenal performance, bringing back the memories of Total Football from the 70s. All round, high tempo football. Fantastic. Just lacking the final strike, the lethal man in the final third. So all the hard work went into nothing, with just one goal scored. And now it will be tough to turn things around at the Santiago Bernabeu.
A 2-1 defeat away from home is fine, there’s plenty of space for a comeback at the Estadio do Dragao. But aside from the final result, the Portuguese side struggled at Roma, and would have probably deserved to lose by more goals. A different performance is needed in the second leg to make it to the next round.