Real Madrid vs PSG: 5 players who could decide the Round of 16 tie

Real Madrid, PSG (Photo by Visionhaus)
Real Madrid, PSG (Photo by Visionhaus) /
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PSG, Marco Verratti (Photo by ANP via Getty Images)
PSG, Marco Verratti (Photo by ANP via Getty Images) /

4. Marco Verratti

Apart from Mbappe, the most helpful asset for PSG on Tuesday was probably Marco Verratti and his link up with, well, everyone in his squad. The midfielder was responsible for formulating countless chances and delivering deft passes that allowed players like Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe to regularly test Real Madrid’s defence.

Verratti’s calmness under pressure surprised Real’s already non-existent pressing on the ball, as his quick passing agility drew men towards him before very speedily releasing the progression to teammates lurking forward. The Italian did not waste any opportunity to capitalise on Real Madrid’s tired legs, and despite Casemiro’s clever tackles, which finally earned the Brazilian a pretty typical yellow card, Verratti emerged as the hosts’ best player.

Mbappe’s late winner stole the show, and Verratti’s game other than scoring or assisting is often overlooked by spectators nowadays, as Real’s own Karim Benzema recently pointed out and this was the major reason why many slept on the midfielder’s exceptional footballing display.

It didn’t take long for the player’s teammate Neymar to heap admiration on the Euro 2020 champion and compare him to the striker’s former FC Barcelona colleagues Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez.

Ancelotti’s whiteboard will undoubtedly be filled with configurations of strategies to thwart Verratti and his excellent strategic yet simple football.