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Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 24 November 2020

Massive investment pays dividend and more Champions League talking points

Man City’s game-maker was Kevin de Bruyne – the man they paid £55 million for.

Image: PA WIRE

City spent handsomely on Kevin de Bruyne for moments just like tonight

Eyebrows were raised when Manchester City forked out £55 million for a player that had been unceremoniously dumped by Jose Mourinho after failing miserably at Chelsea.

But that says more, perhaps, about how so many believe everything Jose touches turns to gold. Sometimes, he makes mistakes and de Bruyne was a massive one.

City have certainly reaped the rewards of securing the Belgian’s signature. Tonight was why they spent so lavishly to bring him to the club. They invested in a game-maker, a game-winner. And as much as he’s been so impressive domestically, City wanted to finally crack Europe and thanks to de Bruyne, they did so this evening.

Yes, it will take more than one semi-final run to become a European heavyweight but they were impressive tonight and controlled the game from start to finish. It was a professional job – certainly a more concrete and put-together performance than the first leg.

And where their defence and central midfield was secure, their offence was quick, intelligent and full of energy.

In de Bruyne, City have a young player that’s only getting better. In a central role, he’s their focal point and already making that huge investment look like a sound bit of business.

Cristiano Ronaldo continues to put up remarkable goalscoring numbers

He’s now scored 78 goals in his last 73 Champions League appearances. The hat-trick tonight was his 37th (!) for Real Madrid. He’s managed 42 Champions League goals since September 2013 – that’s more than Arsenal. Yes, you read that last one correctly.

Spain Soccer Champions League Source: Paul White/AP/Press Association Images

Some may prefer Lionel Messi. Some may poke fun at the way he poses for dressing-room photos in his underpants. But there’s no denying his greatness. His power and his athleticism and his pace are all phenomenal but his finishing is at another level.

The other thing is his single-handedness. Tonight, Real Madrid were in trouble. And there was only going to be one player to get them out of the mess.

Unlike Barcelona and their ‘MSN’, Real Madrid, really, just have ‘R’. But that’s okay sometimes. Because he’s the equivalent of three players.

PSG flatter to deceive and have a long way to go

Much was made of PSG after their win over Chelsea. Having watched both games, I thought they were good but not great, that some of the talk of possible Champions League success was a little over the top.

Tonight, they were poor. And that was after being poor in the first leg too. Laurent Blanc talked a good game but ultimately, he made poor decisions and was made to pay.

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Manchester City v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League - Quarter Final - Second Leg - Etihad Stadium Source: Nigel French/PA Wire/Press Association Images

They sorely missed Marco Verratti’s terrier-like nature in the middle of the park while they also could’ve really done with Matuidi’s energy and directness. Still, the likes of Cavani and di Maria were really subdued and Ibrahimovic was a passenger, with the exception of a couple of free-kicks that forced Joe Hart into action.

Ultimately, when they badly needed a moment of inspiration, Cavani missed a glorious chance after de Bruyne scored.

So, despite cantering to another French league title, PSG flattered to deceive in Europe. We expected better and were left disappointed.

There’s no doubt that the gulf in class domestically is a hindrance and all the high-profile players, all the big wages, all the glitz and glamour has ultimately ended in failure.

And that won’t sit well with their highly-demanding owners.

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As it happened: Manchester City v Paris Saint-Germain, Champions League

Vintage Cristiano Ronaldo display puts Real in Champions League semis

About the author:

Eoin O'Callaghan

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