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Paris Saint-Germain maintained their unbeaten start in the UEFA Champions League thanks to a 2-2 draw with RB Leipzig in Germany on Wednesday night.



Leipzig started the match in full flow and created a good opening in the sixth minute when Andre Silva dispossessed Nuno Mendes on the right wing and squared for Emil Forsberg. The Swede could not find the finish but two minutes later Christopher Nkunku did.

Siva was the creator again, creating room on the left wing this time against Acharf Hakimi and whipping in a delightful cross. Nkunku, formerly of PSG, nipped in at the near post to nod the ball past Gigi Donnarumma. 



The goal only provided encouragement to Leipzig as three minutes later they had a golden chance to double their lead. Silva was involved again as he played in Nkunku who had made a smart run into the penalty box. The Frenchman returned the pass to Silva who was brought down by Danilo as he lined up the shot. The referee pointed to the spot instantly and Danilo was lucky to only see yellow.

Silva stepped up to finish what he started but Donnarumma had other ideas. The Italian goalkeeper showed why PSG signed him this summer and palmed away the Leipzig striker’s weak penalty to his right.



Donnarumma nearly undid his good work with a distribution error and Konrad Laimer shot wide from the edge of the box as Jesse March’s side continued to push. Nkunku could have had a second after neat interplay between Silva and Laimer but the forward fired wide.

PSG however showed their superior quality, scoring with effectively their first attack of the match. Neymar played in Kylian Mbappe who squared for Gini Wijnaldum to tap in. After the equalizer, the match got cagey with yellow cards being handed out to Tyler Adams and Presnel Kimpembe in quick succession.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side went ahead just before the break with Wijnaldum the scorer again. Angel di Maria swung in a corner which was headed back across by Maruquinhos. Wijnaldum was the only one alive and headed in, past a helpless Peter Gulacsi. The Dutch midfielder was flagged offside by the linesman but a VAR review overturned the decision and handed PSG the goal.



The second half started more slowly and it was the away side that was on top in the opening minutes after the interval. Mbappe missed two gilt-edged chances to extend PSG’s lead but the Frenchman first shot over from just outside the six-yard box from Wijnaldum’s layoff and then saw his attempt saved expertly by Gulacsi after a breakaway counter.

Lepizig were jolted into action by the second opportunity and nearly equalised immediately. Donnarumma misjudged a cross and could only palm the ball into Angelino’s path. The goalkeeper’s blushes were spared by Marquinhos who got back in time to block the shot. Substitutes Yousuf Poulsen and Dominik Szoboszlai came on to good effect and the latter should have done better from Nkunku’s cross but could only glance his volley wide of the far post.

There was still a plot twist left in the tale as Leipzig got a late penalty after a VAR check thanks to Kimpembe, who always has a gaffe in him. The French defender jumped into the back of Amadou Haidara. With Silva and Forsberg off the field, the responsibilities fell to Szoboszlai, who made no mistake, stroking the ball past the outstretched Donnarumma who guessed right.



PSG look far from stable defensively with their midfield getting pulled all over the place, trying to cover for their luxurious forward line. Hakimi and Mendes are still to mature defensively but it was the performance of captain Marquinhos that saved Pochettino’s side multiple times. The Brazilian centre-back was immense, covering every inch of space he could.



Marquinhos was the organiser, if you can call it organisation, desperately trying to get his side into some shape as they tried to defend the one goal lead. He had a crucial block from Angelino’s shot and was the final line of defence time and time again, recording the highest tackles of anyone on the field. The Brazilian was also effective going forward, starting attacks from the back and providing the assist for Wijnaldum and PSG’s second. The one point could have easily been zero if not for the PSG captain.



One can feel sorry for Mauricio Pochettino or blame him but it is clear that PSG’s current system is not working. There is no chemistry between the players, there are huge gaps between both horizontal and vertical lines, and it is only individual quality that has them in a strong position in their group.

It was perhaps a blessing in disguise that Lionel Messi was out injured, which allowed Pochettino to use the more mobile and defensively astute Angel di Maria. However, the forward line still looks as if they meet each other only on match days and the midfield doesn’t meet the forward line even then. Whether it is the manager, the system or the players – something needs to change.



The draw was not enough to keep Leipzig in contention for progression but there were a lot of positives for Jesse March to take away from the match. The midfield of Laimer and Adams was relentless and Silva and Nkunku combined well up-front, supported by Forsberg. His substitutes too had a positive impact in the second half, eventually getting the equaliser in injury time. As Szoboszlai tucked the penalty away with ease.



They still have a Europa League spot to play for and you would put your money on them to get it despite the three point deficit. The result could also provide Leipzig the boost they need to get back to regular winning ways in the Bundesliga. The Red Bull system is one of the better ones in European football and March could yet go on to build something special at Leipzig.

Ritwik Khanna
Economics student supporting FC Goa and Manchester United, in true masochistic way. Can be found reading Jonathan Wilson and Sid Lowe or planning a quirky trip in his free time.

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