Zinedine Zidane endured a torrid return to the city in which he won a World Cup as his Real Madrid side were beaten 3-0 by an understrength Paris Saint-Germain side in Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League action.
A first-half brace for Real Madrid old boy Angel Di Maria secured three points for a Paris Saint-Germain side shorn of their three-pronged attack of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani, but if Madrid were buoyed by the absence of the world-class trio, it didn’t translate to the pitch as the French champions swept aside their Spanish rivals, depriving them of even a single shot on target in the process.
Di Maria’s first-half double was added to late on by Thomas Meunier to complete the rout but in truth, the game had been over as a contest long before Anthony Taylor blew his whistle for the last time into the Paris night sky.
Zidane’s ‘rebuild’ of Real Madrid saw a string of big-money imports added to an already talent-rich squad in the summer but the most expensive of them all, Eden Hazard, existed on the periphery of the game. Luka Jovic saw 20 minutes. Paul Pogba still plays for Manchester United.
Gareth Bale, the mercurial Welshman who was nudged towards the door all summer long by Zidane, was by far Madrid’s most potent threat. He had a sensational lobbed goal ruled out following a VAR check for handball, as well as coming close with a stinging left-footed drive and an arcing free-kick.
0 – Real Madrid failed to have a single shot on target against PSG tonight, the first time they have failed to do so in the UEFA Champions League since Opta began collecting such data in the competition in 2003-04 (in 167 games). Shy. #UCL#ChampionsLeaguepic.twitter.com/t4c3yhtHar
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 18, 2019
Madrid midfield players have been invisible tonight. Unbelievable how easily PSG are bypassing them
— Dean Jones (@DeanJonesBR) September 18, 2019
Zinedine Zidane showing why the 3 Champions Leagues Real Madrid won consecutively had nothing to do with his Tactical prowess but the decisiveness of Cristiano Ronaldo. 🤷🏾♂️… CR7 made it fun to be a Madrid Player
— Mr Nobody (@Rali16) September 18, 2019
Bale was the only Real bright spark. The French champions bolstered their midfield on the ever-industrious duo of Marco Veratti and ex-Everton man Idrissa Gueye who set a tempo which couldn’t be matched, even by Madrid’s typical verve.
Paris were exceptional. Victory over Real Madrid at home in this competition represents a coup to the massively oil-rich club thirsting for success on the European stage and secretly, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to many for the club to be relieved that it came without Neymar on the field, either for them or his reported suitors in the opposition dugout.
By the game’s dregs the French match director had taken quite an interest in displaying Zidane’s furrowed brow in an array of slow-motion close ups on the sidelines as his side continued to stumble, as if painting a picture of the work that the three-time Champions League winning coach has to do to to guide his side back on course.
Zidane, already the star of his own film, will be hoping any further entries into his filmography won’t quite be as noir as the images beamed across the globe late on Wednesday.