There were two different games in this first semi-final first leg of the Champions League between PSG and Manchester City. One outrageously dominated by the Parisians, whose speed of execution hurt the English. And the other, controlled by the Citizens who have found their game of possession so characteristic that allowed them to reverse the meeting. In the end, it was the De Bruyne gang that emerged victorious from this duel at the top.
And the Belgian has once again donned the costume of a conductor in Manchester City. The British and French press were not mistaken. Everywhere, the captain of the Citizens gets the best possible rating, an honor he shares with Riyad Mahrez in some newspapers this morning.
“The best players in the world are making their presence felt in the biggest stages and De Bruyne was at that level, despite his physical glitches”, underlined the Manchester Evening News, which gave him the score of 8 out of 10. The Sun, meanwhile, underlined the two actions of the Devil which changed the face of the meeting: “He came close to equalizing after a monstrous effort but his return was unsuccessful. Then his seemingly harmless ball towards the second post sounded the charge of the Citizens”, points the British tabloid, which does not spare Navas on this equalizing goal either.
De Bruyne put the French press at his feet
Same story on the French side who had nothing but praise for De Bruyne after his meeting against the Parisians: “With his red hair tending to blonde, the Citizen has once again released Super Saiyan mode to reign in the Hall of Spirit and Time. KDBZ”, wrote So Foot with his usual humorous tone, giving him the best mark of all the players of the meeting (8/10).
What the daily L’Équipe also did, even if the largest French sports daily compared the two halves of the captain of the Citizens: “Like his team, the Belgian played two contrasting halves. In the first period, he lost balls and missed crosses (20th, 30th). Then he was bright, taking the game of his team in hand, showing dangerous on a splendid volley (60th) before equalizing (64th). ”
For L’Équipe, De Bruyne and Mahrez played a brilliant match, just like their season: “Beyond their achievement, they delivered a full match, since, within their team, they were the ones who most often shot (3, like Foden), without neglecting the defensive efforts. show the same level as Wednesday next Tuesday, Manchester City does not have much to worry about “, analyzes the French newspaper which admired their humility in the interview at the end of the match.
At France Football, it is above all the reaction and the rise in power of De Bruyne that have been highlighted, after the Belgian played an average first half: “We first put a 6, before adding an extra point. Yes, this first act is completely upside down, but the Belgian was the major actor in the revolt”, highlighting the impact of the Devil and his role as conductor within this team from Mancun. “In the end, his second period was at the level of a semi-final of the Champions League. With of course this goal on a fleeing ball which passed in front of everyone.”
Mbappé and Neymar below
If praise was not lacking for De Bruyne and Mahrez, criticism has burst in the French press towards Kylian Mbappé and Neymar. “Mbappé, an evening to forget” , even headlined the Parisian this Thursday. “The Frenchman did not shine in an evening when Manchester City’s two central defenders often took the upper hand. He surely delivered his worst match in the Champions League this season.”
Same opinion on the side of L’Équipe, which found the French nugget “ghostly” facing the Mancunians: “Absent good shots throughout a smooth match. Not a clear opportunity. He struggled to go one-on-one. He didn’t take enough advantage of the depth and slowness of the game. City axis. A good center where Verratti is too short (56th). Another bad choice on a counter ball (85th). Very disappointing in his offensive ambition ” , while Neymar has done little better still according to the daily. “The first strike of the match is for him (2nd). He tried to play under Mbappé by alternating with Verratti as on this combination hijacked by Ederson (13th). He dropped in speed during the match and is too passive on the victorious strike from De Bruyne (64th). A yellow in the 74th which shows his offensive frustration. ”
“In attitudes as in the game, the performance of Neymar and Mbappé will have been insufficient and disappointing” , pointed out So Foot which does not spare the two Parisian playing masters, supposed to pull their team upwards but who have plunged with it. “Neymar, who definitely never learns, preferred to pay the excellent Rúben Dias with a hunt which earned him a rusk. A great classic for the Brazilian international. He has not found his way to the net. beyond the knockout stages of the Champions League since its magical edition in 2015, ie ten games in a row. The boy from Bondy, meanwhile, has not found the solutions and alternatives to remain a giant. times, in a match that he plays from start to finish, he did not even attempt the slightest shot (Opta). ”
But what bothered the French magazine the most was the attitude of the two Parisian stars: “A problem of football, but also of behavior: the two stars put less energy into making efforts for the defensive withdrawal, being more occupied in lecturing poor Mitchel Bakker, 20, who would probably have preferred to see the two self-proclaimed leaders of this Parisian team behave as such. ”