Real Madrid beat Paris Saint Germain by wide margins of 3-0 but that is not the story. The issue is that Real was under pressure and threat. They are far behind Barca in the league at home and are out of many cup competitions. Now, the encounter with PSG was expected to either nail Coach Zinedine Zidane’s coffin or get him a breather.
This made the match very important and therefore tense. On the other hand, PSG reloaded heavily in 2017 especially the buying of Neymar, forcing the world to wait for a real test such as came in Real. The day came on love day (Val Day) but no team was in the mood for love.
Many saw the success of Real but the reasons remain hidden. It is Real’s staying power and full concentration for 90 minutes that often sucks those who meet them talent for talent.
The Champions League match therefore a clash of class. Both teams were equally talented and almost equally well paid. Something had to make the difference.
The two teams matched each other toe to toe; the game was tight with enough doses of skillful displays. The match stats were a testament to that fact until the 33rd minute when PSG broke the deadlock with a smart strike from Rabiot. Madrid stepped up with “Real” pressure a bid to cancel a dangerous away goal.
The stern and desperate looking face of Cristiano Ronaldo communicated the hunger in Real to equalize and three goals later Real beat PSG 3 – 1.
Real showed character and focus; that is an edge they have against their equals in talent. They will hold on to a match battling with their opponents on equal terms, and waiting for them to lose concentration and they strike. winning with an emphatic score line that does not exactly reflect the gallant fight put in by the opposition.
This happened against Athletico Madrid at the 2014 final in Lisbon. Athletico mounted serious pressure and led by a goal by Diego Gordin after the first half. Segio Ramos equalized for Real at the 93rd minute after battling to hang on to the game and forced the match into extra time.
Athletico had already perceived the feeling of victory and were struck a psychological blow by the Ramos equalizer. Real took advantage of the momentary depression of their opponents and pumped in three more goals to lift the trophy. That victory came from their ability to remain alert till the end.
Madrid dusted their playbook and used it against the Neymar-led PSG side. Immediately PSG lost focus and second-guessed their commitment to tackles, fighting for space and the ball, Madrid struck them “Real” hard, twice more.
PSG may have spent as much as Real Madrid to assemble their enviable roll call of stars, but mental focus must be earned by experience in battle. No team has it more than Real Madrid in this tournament. Except of course, Messi’s Barca…