The game: halftime championship
Given Benfica’s collective quality, we expected PSG to be in trouble. He was good for a good part of the first period, despite a good twenty minutes after Leo Messi’s opener. Struggling to get the ball out, technical inaccuracies saw Paris appear at the mercy of a much more coherent Lisbon formation in the field’s grid. But at the break he was transformed. Positioned higher, better coordinated in pressing, much superior in tackles, Christophe Galtier’s formation showed a championship that demanded a win. Only his lack of realism and an inspired Odysseas Vlachodimos in the Portuguese goal prevented that exit.
Player: Donnarumma calmed down
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This has sometimes caused concern in the European scene. But Gianluigi Donnarumma was imperial at Lisbon, both when Paris suffered in the first period and on Benfica’s rare occasions in the second. Leo Messi was PSG’s other strongman. Beyond the goal, the Argentine was the origin of the best Parisian situations. He was much more prominent than Neymar and especially Kylian Mbappé, with no inspiration and no success. At Benfica, Rafa Silva confirmed his potential with his playing accuracy and great technical quality. Above all, the Lisbon club had their guardian angel…
Gianluigi Donnarumma and his incredible save against David Neres
Photo credit: Getty Images
The X Factor: Odysseas Class
Like PSG, Benfica could rely on a bouncer on a good night. Odysseas Vlachodimos made important saves to prevent a Portuguese defeat. The Lisbon goalkeeper, twice decisive ahead of Achraf Hakimi and Kylian Mbappé, also had a chance to see his crossbar save him in an acrobatic return from Neymar. Without him, the Eagles would probably not have scored a point against the Parisians.
The stats: 40
He hadn’t scored in two ties against Benfica while playing for FC Barcelona. He just needed one with PSG to find the nets and with the way. A goal marked by Messi that will allow him to add a new record to his record. He has now scored against 40 different opponents in the Champions League. Nobody has done so well in the history of the competition.
The explanation: Marco Verratti (PSG midfielder)
If you can’t win, don’t lose
The question: is it a worrying draw?
It’s always difficult to judge this PSG. Also this result. A draw at La Luz isn’t exactly a bad point, but Paris are keen to battle higher caliber formations. And from that perspective, it is indeed a win that was expected in Portugal to live up to Parisian ambitions. The fact that Paris didn’t make it can rightly be seen as a failure for Christophe Galtier’s education. Even if this point is a small step closer to the round of 16 for the co-leader of his group.
The path is a bit like the result. PSG are still looking for that consistency in the game that they have been lacking since the start of this Champions League. He’s still not handling his weak times well and exudes a still worrying lack of defensive reliability. On the other hand, he showed progress in the middle, especially in his control after the break, and retains that ability to make the difference at any time thanks to the genius of his attackers.
This draw is not enough. Above all, it shows that PSG’s room for improvement at the collective level remains significant. But Paris were clearly in danger against a team that has shown their competitiveness since the start of the season unless they are a true Cador of Europe. He doesn’t really grow up from this trip to Lisbon. But this point remains a small step forward.
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