Champions League-PSG had everything to win, but Real Madrid threw their history on its head and turned the series around in two minutes. Benzema was the hero with a hat-trick to take Los Blancos into the Champions League Quarterfinals.
By Facundo Di Bona (@facudibona).
The dream came to an end: PSG was knocked out of the Champions League in the Round of 16. Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappé, and Neymar Jr. could not beat Real Madrid with all the wind at their backs.
At this hour and with a disjointed Nasser Al-Khelaifi in the post-match, Mauricio Pochettino is about to be ejected from his post like the seat of a fighter plane that is about to fall: the Argentine coach did not have the ability to put together a team that has a winning mentality and will surely leave the Parisian club along with the sporting director, Leonardo.
Real Madrid is responsible for the French misfortune and Karim Benzema was the protagonist of a redemption movie worthy of Rocky and Hollywood.
— B/R Football (@brfootball) March 9, 2022
After being 1-0 on aggregate and with the wind at their backs, PSG arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu and were superior from the start of the match.
Paris Saint-Germain defended an bloc, moved cautiously and had a clear idea of what to do: send long balls to Mbappé for the best striker in the world to move like a gazelle between Real Madrid defenders.
That’s how PSG opened the scoring: Neymar chased a loose ball in his own half and set up Mbappé for the Frenchman to run onto the box and score at the near post.
— That Normal Kid ? (@unobiilly) March 9, 2022
The French were 1-0 away and 2-0 on aggregate. It seemed a bit impossible for the scoreboard to take another direction and they were doing really well, but this is soccer and on the other side was the living history of the Champions League.
Carlo Ancelotti had things very clear as Real Madrid coach: his team could not press as if it were Liverpool or Manchester City and had few minutes to do so. Since he did not do so at the start, he let his players take charge in the second half, when everything is really defined.
At 34 years and 80 days Karim Benzema is the oldest player to EVER score a hat trick in the Champions League.
He did it inspiring the comeback against the Messi-Mbappe-Neymar PSG ? pic.twitter.com/2MKUBLBboQ
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 9, 2022
Real Madrid came out for the second half with blood in their eyes and history in front of them. The home side went to press and found water in the desert.
Gianluigi Donnarumma had the ball and Benzema went to press him, but the goalkeeper took too much time and became desperate. The Italian wanted to clear to one side, the ball fell to Vinicius Jr. and, with a low cross, he left Benzema to define.
Benzema : Im boutta end this man's whole career
Donnaruma : ? pic.twitter.com/32aMGoNp2U
— Дези Katyusha (@Ridhourbae) March 9, 2022
The series was once again open and Real Madrid entered the match as never before. Los Blancos stuck to the plan to the letter and pressed without letting PSG touch the ball for a minute at a time.
It is true that Donnarumma today seems to be the big responsible for the Champions League elimination, but what came next was the PSG debacle: two fatal minutes that condemned the Parisian team’s mentality.
In the 75th minute, Luka Modric unleashed his magic from behind the midfield and, after the play got messy and PSG had retreated, he got the ball back to his feet and unbelievably set up Benzema.
The French striker – and this is on a personal note from the writer: the best of this generation – received in the box and scored the 2-1 to level the series.
This is an unbelievable come back ????
— ??I'm Wayne???? (@mcmaswayne10) March 9, 2022
The PSG players’ heads were totally out of this match and immediately after they pulled out of the middle, Real Madrid regained possession and faced Donnarumma’s goal again.
Rodrygo set up Vinicius Jr. and the Brazilian striker lost the ball, but Marquinhos cleared into the middle and there was the one in charge of turning this story around Karim Benzema.
Once again, El Gato was the one to sign his hat-trick in the Champions League and give Real Madrid the definitive 3-1 that made them advance to the next round.
— EGIK PRABOWO (@PrabowoEgik) March 9, 2022
The Santiago Bernabeu stadium went wild to the rhythm of a Frenchman, but not from Paris. Benzema surpassed Alfredo Di Stéfano to become the third top scorer in Real Madrid’s history, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo and Raúl.
PSG has left adrift. With a star-studded Dream Team and the biggest economic potential in the world, they forgot that they had to have something key in a sporting project: a good coach and a sporting director capable of managing the highs and lows accordingly.
Pochettino was too lax with his substitutions. He did not have to replace Leandro Paredes, a key player in the recovery, and his pulse trembled when he had to take off Messi or Neymar with Angel Di Maria on the bench.
With the elimination in the Champions League, it seems that in Paris there will be many changes inside. There are many seats that cannot be occupied by people who are not qualified.
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