PSG beat Leipzig to reach first Champions League final 2 years ago

PSG beat Leipzig to reach first Champions League final

PSG have reached their first ever Champions League final.

Paris Saint-Germain cruised to victory in a semi-final between two two sides both equally revered and reviled. It was a contest between a soft power exercise for Qatar and a marketing campaign for a drink, who also happened to be two excellent footballing sides.

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It took all of 13 minutes for PSG to take the lead, as Angel Di Maria whipped in a pinpoint set piece that Marquinhos headed home. The perfect midway point between a glancing header and a thumping one. They had already hit the post and had the ball in net, only for it to be correctly disallowed for handball.

Using the same diamond system as in the semi-final against Atalanta but this time with the creative Leandro Paredes replacing the more defensive-minded Idrissa Gueye, Neymar was afforded the freedom of the park. As PSG's talisman moved wherever he felt he could be most dangerous, MbappƩ and Di Maria adjusted their positioning to fill the spaces. The midfield three would then supply support where needed to prevent Leipzig playing through the midfield. And it worked. The German side were mostly nullified, but committed to their principles, continued to attempt to play through PSG's press.

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Then PSG scored again. A misplaced pass from Gulasci was picked up by Paredes, who fizzed in a pass to Neymar at knee-height. A mere mortal would have attempted and failed to control the ball, and quite understandably seen it ricochet out for a goal kick. But this is Neymar, and for all the vitriol he receives for his perceived personality flaws, he regularly defies what we consider possible in football. Using split second judgement, he redirected the ball with a delicate flick to Di Maria, who expertly controlled and finished with two touches. Soft power 2 - 0 soft drinks.

Watch the flick, watch it. Drink it in.

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Thomas Tuchel's team then put the game to bed before the hour mark thanks to an unfortunate slip from Nordi Mukiele that played Juan Bernat offside. The Spaniard, outrageously far forward for a left-back, glanced in a header. Neymar, yet to score, poked the ball in after it had crossed the line, just to make sure.

Before the game, Leipzig will have felt that despite their lack of experience - both in general footballing terms and at this level of competition - they had a good chance of going through. Especially considering PSG's track record; they didn't bottle it in the last round, but surely they were going to eventually, surely? Alas, not this year. Rest assured Leipzig will be back, refuelled and ready to fly. This is just the beginning of their glucose-powered success.

Neymar's influence on the game faded throughout the last half hour, when the game was wrapped up. But his efforts to press opposition defenders - something he has been criticised for refusing to waste his energy with - was notable. The creative force in attack and leading the press without it, the Brazilian stepped up when it mattered with a performance that should go some way to silencing his critics. But criticism of Neymar has never been rational.

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Paris Saint-Germain now have four days to prepare for the biggest night in the club's relatively short history. Even if they lose, this will be a victory that eases a lot of pressure on the team in future knock-out games. They've exorcised their demons. They're not bottlers anymore.