PSG through to the Champions League final after coasting past RB Leipzig
For the very first time in its history, French champions Paris Saint-Germain are through to the final of club football’s most prestigious competition after easily going past German oppositio, RB Leipzig, in a 3-0 display in Lisbon.
It’s a historic moment for the capital club and French football, and comes at a time when the club is in the middle of its 50th anniversary week.
After a dramatic turnaround against Atalanta, PSG stylishly disposed of RB Leipzig, coached by Thomas Tuchel’s former player, Julian Nagelsmann.
Thomas Tuchel opted for a 4-3-3 formation that saw Angel Di Maria and Kylian Mbappé return to the starting XI alongside Neymar Jr, the quarter-final Man of the Match.
The Parisians got to work immediately, dominating possession and finding their into Leipzig’s penalty area while their German opposition sought counter-attack opportunities.
Tuchel had suggested the tandem of Mbappé and Neymar Jr would be key, and the pair immediately set about causing Leipzig problems at the Estadio da Luz.
Mbappe started off a move that saw Neymar Jr toe-poked an effort off a post as early as the 6th minute of the game, and the Brazilian number 10 then charged down a clearance, sending the ball Mbappé’s way – he finished, but VAR ruled out the effort as a handball infringement was spotted in the build-up.
Neymar won the free-kick that was delightfully drifted over by Di Maria, and Marquinhos’ exquisitely placed header gave the Rouge-et-Bleu a precious early lead in the 13th minute.
PSG continued to apply the pressure on RB Leipzig as Yussuf Poulsen, Kylian Mbappe, and Neymar all went close with the Brazilian’s long-range free-kick from almost nearly catching out Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulasci, who was a relieved man as the effort skipped to safety off the outside of a post.
The French champions would double their advantage before the break though, pouncing on an erroneous clearance from Gulasci high up the pitch, and Neymar Jr deliciously diverted the ball into the path of Di Maria who calmly took the opportunity and made it 2-0.
Leipzig turning up the tempo after the restart was no surprise, but the Parisians – boasting the best defence in the competition – were not for moving.
It was even a defender who deepened Leipzig’s injuries: Juan Bernat again coming up with a big goal in Europe, heading home as PSG pressure made the Leipzig defence crack again. At the opposite end, Sergio Rico was watchful as he gathered a Marcel Sabitzer shot that curled its way through a crowded penalty area.
The French champions maintained focus and concentration in the closing half-hour and could have scored a couple more goals.
PSG will face the winners of Bayern Munich’s last-four clash with Lyon on Wednesday evening as they seek to mark their 50th anniversary with a first Champions League trophy.
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PSG boss Thomas Tuchel says: “We stayed faithful to our style of play. When possible, we looked to control the half-spaces and control their counterattacks. And we used the acceleration of Ángel [Di María], Kylian [Mbappé] and Neymar with the ball between the lines.
“We didn’t make big tactical changes. Yes, we adapt to all our opponents, but not too much. We have to show our strength, and the players again showed their hunger to win, work together and suffer.
“Football is for the fans. We do all this together. We can really feel that they’re with us and that they have confidence in us. I really hope they can feel that this team is a real team.”
Stats and facts after the match (Backed by Opta)
- PSG will be the fifth different French side to appear in a European Cup/Champions League final and the first since Monaco in 2003-04. Only Italy, Germany (6 each) and England (8) have had more different clubs appear in the final of the competition
- German sides have been eliminated at the semi-finals of the Champions League on each of the last five occasions they have reached this stage of the competition (Bayern four times between 2014-2018 and RB Leipzig tonight), since both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund made the final in 2012-13
- PSG’s Marquinhos has scored in back-to-back Champions League games for the first time since October 2013 (his first two appearances in the competition)
- Neymar has been directly involved in 59 goals in 59 Champions League games (35 goals & 24 assists), including 23 goal involvements in 19 appearances for PSG (14 goals & 9 assists)