P.S.G. Beats RB Leipzig to Reach Champions League Final


A cross came back in, and Bernat buried the header. VAR confirmed the goal.

3-0. Game over?

46’

It’s worth noting that P.S.G. was the most rested — or was it the most out of practice? — team in the field in Lisbon after the French league, alone among Europe’s top leagues, ended its season early, in March, because of the coronavirus pandemic. That made P.S.G. the champion again, but it also left its players without game fitness, and susceptible to injury if pushed. It is possible that Thomas Tuchel, if he believes this game is in fact in hand, may try to rest a few players ahead of Sunday’s final.

Halftime

It’s hard not to think that Leipzig has been complicit in its own demise: Peter Gulacsi’s mistake for P.S.G.’s (most likely decisive) second goal was only the latest, and most significant, incident in which Julian Nagelsmann’s team has been notably careless with the ball. All high-pressing teams have an element of chaos about them — it’s what makes the whole thing work — but on a stage like this, against opponents of this quality, it has to be harnessed much more effectively.

But that should not distract from just how good P.S.G., and in particular its front three, has been (with a nod to the wonderful prompting of Leandro Paredes in midfield).

Neymar might have forgotten how to shoot, but he has produced 135 of his best minutes in the Champions League for some years over the last week or so; the first half here, as well as the quarterfinal win against Atalanta, is at a level he has not produced consistently in this competition since Barcelona’s 6-1 win against his current employers in 2017. Kylian Mbappé is full of menace, as ever, a player out to prove that his time has come; Ángel Di María is the perfect complement to both. The understanding they have forged among themselves, and that has been nurtured by Thomas Tuchel, is wonderful to watch, and appears, at times, entirely unstoppable.

This, you suspect, is what P.S.G. had in mind when it went and bought Neymar and Mbappé three years ago. — RORY SMITH

42’

P.S.G. adds to its advantage only minutes before halftime when a redirected pass (what a touch by Neymar on the run!) lands at the feet of Di María in the goal mouth. He calmly controls it and pulls it across his body — and past the goalkeeper — with his left foot. P.S.G. leads, 2-0.

Gulasci only has himself to blame there. He hit an awful clearance straight to Paredes, and he took it from there. One touch to control, then another to feed Neymar. Neymar’s touch — a deft backheel on the run to drop it behind him — was the masterstroke there. All Di María needed to do was bring it down and slot it home.



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