“PSG lost their calm and composure because they were tactically out-thought and outclassed by a much-more superior brain, who knows how things can be done in a smarter way”

 

The stadium was empty but the emotions were raw when the referee blew the final whistle. The wait is over and the backlash of the investment of the Arab money would take a sit back for while because Manchester City would feature in this season’s Champions League final for the first time. Pep Guardiola and his players have done it!

To feature in the final of the showpiece event of European Football, the journey of Manchester City has been all about heartbreaks and harsh criticism of the Arab money – even though the backlashes remained milder in case of non-Arab investments.

Manchester City enjoyed great seasons in the Premier League while in the Champions League; they failed to click consistently. The sufferings made the unit determined, helped them correct their mistake and the reward has been sweeter in a night which started off with an unusual hailstorm – after the storm came the moment of joy!

The intent of Manchester City was evident from the word go – everyone was a hero and everyone gave their everything to put Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) on the back foot and throughout the match, the visitors could not find a way to pressurize the hosts.

There might be a school of thought that PSG were missing the pace and skill of Kylian MBappe, but one must not forget that at Paris, the Manchester City defenders led by the dynamic Ruben Dias totally shut down the World Cup winner. Even if he had featured at the Etihad Stadium, his edge might have been missing in front of a defence that was like the Great Wall of China.

With Icardi playing as the striker it was obvious that he would play more as a decoy and allocate spaces for Neymar and Angel Di Maria into the central zone and that is where both of them looked dangerous, especially Neymar when he darted with his eloquent feet and body movements with the intention of ripping through the heart of the City defence.

The defenders of Manchester City had to put their bodies on the line – all of them excelling, particularly Ruben Dias and Oleksandr Zinchenko, who Guardiola preferred to Joao Cancelo. Meanwhile, John Stones and Kyle Walker were so focused that it left no loopholes in the City defence.

PSG were suffocated.

Then there was that Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva who sprinted breathlessly between boxes, while Fernandinho showed all his knowledge and experience as he took control of the midfield – no wonder, why Pep loves him so much! Phil Foden was always a continuous threat and Ilkay Gundogan aided Fernandinho at the center of the park.

City’s first foray forward proved fruitful, starting off with a superb long ball from goalkeeper Ederson leading to a Kevin de Bruyne shot that was initially blocked by Marquinhos, but Riyad Mahrez was there to pounce on the rebound and slot in past PSG goalkeeper Keylor Navas for a 1-0 lead.

PSG’s commitment to pushing numbers forward played right into City’s hands, as a counterattack led to a Phil Foden cross for Mahrez to hammer into the net, stretching the City lead to 2-0 and 4-1 on aggregate, all but sealing the tie.

The match was pretty much lost for PSG and then they lost their heads when Di Maria foolishly stomped on the foot of Fernandinho with the ball out of play, resulting in a straight red card and PSG to play the final 20 minutes a man down.

PSG lost their calm and composure because they were tactically out-thought and outclassed by a much-more superior brain, who knows how things can be done in a smarter way – no over-thinking and no adventure, but trusted the basics and let the men perform in a more composed fashion and his instruction towards his players to check their emotions helped in maintaining the focus better than the PSG players.

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Now, Pep Guardiola would wait for the glory at Istanbul and for the finalists from the other semifinal between Real Madrid and Chelsea.

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