Disorganised defence dooms PSG in UCL quarterfinal at Manchester City
MANCHESTER, England -- Paris Saint-Germain are deservedly out of the UEFA Champions League after a 1-0 defeat at Manchester City on Tuesday completed a 3-2 aggregate loss. Needing a much-improved performance after a 2-2 first-leg draw, which gifted the Premier league outfit two valuable away goals, the French champions delivered another massively underwhelming showing at Etihad Stadium.
Lacking the suspended Blaise Matuidi and David Luiz, PSG coach Laurent Blanc inexplicably moved away from his tried-and-tested 4-3-3 formation with no warning and the result was a chaotic opening half in which a number of players regularly switched positions. Despite that messy opening 45 minutes, Les Parisiens were still in with a chance going into the second period and they actually looked better once they reverted to their familiar 4-3-3.
However, the loss of Thiago Motta in the first half and the unfamiliarity of the three players in midfield ultimately contributed toward their downfall. Kevin De Bruyne's match winner, when it came, was superb but progression to a first semifinal since 1994-95 already appeared beyond this PSG.
Blanc will deservedly receive plenty of criticism but in reality, the men from the French capital made the fatal mistakes in the first leg.
GK Kevin Trapp, 3 -- The German goalkeeper got a lot of the ball early on from his defenders, but his first and only major contribution to the spectacle was to concede a 29th-minute penalty. The 25-year-old was booked but could easily have seen red. After that, Trapp had little to do and stood no chance on De Bruyne's winner.
DF Serge Aurier, 2 -- Blanc's decision to reintegrate the Ivory Coast international for the first leg was arguably his most serious mismanagement over the two matches. The 23-year-old was wretched at Parc des Princes but somehow even worse in Manchester. The Ivorian gave the ball away for the penalty and other City chances, enduring a muddled 61-minute outing before making way for Javier Pastore.
DF Thiago Silva, 6 -- Along with Adrien Rabiot, the Brazilian was one of PSG's best performers. The captain tried to make sense of Blanc's baffling tactical alterations and did his best to marshal an ever-changing defensive unit in the first half. In the second, the 31-year-old was able to concentrate solely on the game and went close with a header from a Lucas Moura corner.
DF Marquinhos, 6 -- After an uneasy first 45 minutes -- he changed from left central defender to right and then to defensive midfield -- the Brazil international was Silva's equal at the heart of the defence. With so much speculation surrounding his future, the 21-year-old showed why Les Parisiens would be crazy to let him leave.
MF Gregory van der Wiel, 3 -- Deployed wide on the right of midfield in Blanc's starting 3-4-1-2, the Netherlands international fared better once he reverted to his regular right-back role. However, his deliveries were poor all night and a pointless booking emphasised why the French champions are likely to show him the door at the end of the season. Although not the worst player on the night, simply not good enough for a team aiming to win the Champions League.
MF Adrien Rabiot, 6.5 -- After scoring PSG's second goal in the first leg, the France under-21 international started with confidence in Manchester. Although he took a little bit too much time on the ball at times, he was the visitors' best player on an otherwise poor night.
MF Thiago Motta, 4.5 -- Injured late in the first half, the Italy international was forced off just before the break. Before that, the 33-year-old struggled to anchor a makeshift midfield in front of a defence that lacked shape. Aurier also played the Azzurri veteran into trouble, which resulted in him pulling up short.
MF Maxwell, 4 -- Although he fought admirably to make a difference going forward, the time has come to admit that the seasoned Brazilian campaigner no longer has the legs for the Champions League. Blanc would arguably have been better off starting the attack-minded Layvin Kurzawa.
MF Angel Di Maria, 3 -- Invisible. Aside from a few early flashes and one or two passes in the second half, the Argentina international did nothing constructive. After a poor first leg, El Fideo needed to deliver and he failed to.
FW Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 4 -- The Swede's two free kicks tested Joe Hart and were two of the Ligue 1 champions' three best chances, but otherwise, the 34-year-old was a peripheral figure. It may well have been the talismanic striker's last Champions League, depending on where he goes -- if he goes anywhere -- this summer.
FW Edinson Cavani, 3.5 -- The Uruguay international worked hard, as always, but his best contributions came in defence and not in attack. Played in one-on-one with Hart at 1-0 down, the Englishman shut down El Matador and any hopes PSG had of a recovery were dashed.
FW Lucas Moura, 4.5 -- Sent on for Motta after 44 minutes, the Brazilian tried to get the ball as often as possible but the visiting midfield were incapable of finding the 23-year-old in enough space to attack the City back line.
MF Javier Pastore, 5 -- A surprise name in the PSG match squad to begin with, the Argentina international's introduction after 61 minutes was an unexpected bonus. Although he did look off the pace, as expected, El Flaco still produced more in 29 minutes than most of his teammates did over 90. The 26-year-old showed commitment by getting stuck in and can be forgiven his booking.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.