Champions League takeaways: PSG still can’t break through in Europe

Edinson-Cavani

PSG's Edinson Cavani reacts Tuesday's game against Real Madrid. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Here’s what happened in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday, in case you missed it…

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Liverpool 0, FC Porto 0: Match report || Scoresheet
Paris Saint-Germain 1, Real Madrid 2: Match report || Scoresheet

WHAT STOOD OUT

PSG can’t break though – in more ways than one
Paris Saint-Germain hoped it could finally break through the glass ceiling of the UEFA Champions League when it spent a world-record transfer fee on Brazilian Neymar last summer. Instead, the French giants have stumbled out of the competition at the Round of 16 for the second consecutive time – before that they bowed out in the quarterfinals four times in a row. For all of PSG’s dominance in France, European glory continues to elude them, even with the massive amounts in investment that ownership has made on players over the last six years.

The barrier keeping them from joining the European elite wasn’t the only thing PSG couldn’t shatter on Tuesday night at the Parc des Princes. The French side was stymied by Real Madrid’s defence and midfield, its potent attack (minus the injured Neymar) shut down by a smart gameplan that saw the Spaniards defend with two banks of four across the middle. Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane were sublime in the middle of Real’s defence, while central midfield duo Matteo Kovacic and Casemiro (the man of the match) did an outstanding job of protecting the back line.

Real was masterful in its discipline in keeping its defensive shape and staying organized, as PSG struggled to find a way through. Rarely did the hosts get in behind Real, as the defence kept PSG’s attackers in front of them for most of the game.

BEST GOAL OF THE DAY

Early in the second half, Marco Asensio stripped Dani Alves of possession and then made a run down the left flank before sending the ball through the legs of the recovering Alves. Lucas Vazquez whipped the ball to the far post where Cristiano Ronaldo out-jumped his marker to nod it home, and give Real a 1-0 lead.

BEST MOMENT OF THE DAY

BEST TWEET OF THE DAY

ESPN’s Robbie Dunne gives his view on Edinson Cavani’s first-half performance:

HE SAID IT

“The plan worked well for us. We played a perfect game.” — Zinedine Zidane, Real Madrid manager

THE GAME WITHIN THE GAME

How much trouble did PSG have breaking down Real Madrid? Consider this: The French club registered just three shots through the first half of a home Champions League game since October, 2015 (also against Real Madrid). Star forward Edinson Cavani was limited to just nine touches on the ball through the first half (and only four of them came in and around the penalty area). Real’s stout defensive organization through the opening 45 minutes set the tone.

BURNING QUESTION OF THE DAY

SIX PACK OF STATS

• Cristiano Ronaldo is the second player in Champions League history to score in nine consecutive games (14 goals), after Manchester United’s Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2003 (12 goals).
• Liverpool failed to record a single shot on target in the first half of a game for only the second time this season.
• Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema is the third French player to reach 100 Champions League appearances, after Thierry Henry (112) and Patrice Evra (108).
• Liverpool have progressed to the last eight of the Champions League for the first time since 2008-09.
• Lass Diarra is the fifth player to play for both PSG and Real Madrid in the Champions League, after Nicolas Anelka, David Beckham, Angel Di Maria and Jese.
• No team has ever progressed to the next round following a 5-0 home loss in the first leg of a Champions League knockout series (Liverpool beat FC Porto 5-0 two weeks ago in Portugal).
Stats courtesy of Opta

THREE STARS

1) Casemiro, Real Madrid: The Brazilian was a defensive dynamo in protecting the back line, completing all but one of his 57 passes, and scoring Real’s second goal.
2) Marco Asensio, Real Madrid: Was outstanding in attack down the left wing, helped out defensively, and it was his hard work that led to Ronaldo’s goal.
3) Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid: Besides scoring the winner, he set up a goal, created four other scoring chances, and served as a dangerous attacking outlet the entire game.

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