Di Maria on fire!!!


PSG finally have finally earned a shot at the Champions League final after breezing through RB Leipzig with a 3-0 victory on Tuesday night.

Bayern Munich or Lyon await in the final, as the Parisians celebrated semi-final success for the first time after crashing-out at the last-16 for the past three seasons, waiting a record 110 games for their big moment.

Though a routine victory for Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Co, there was plenty to ponder before the final as we look at the seven things we learned from Lisbon.


Di Maria drags PSG home
Among the stunning front-three Tuchel fielded on Tuesday, those tuning in may not have expected Angel Di Maria to be the man who dragged PSG over the line.

While Mbappe and Neymar failed to deliver on their world class status in front of goal, Di Maria stepped up with a man of the match performance – scoring and providing two assists.

The Argentine first swung in a pin-point free-kick for Marquinhos to head in un-marked before tapping-in cooly himself after panicking Leipzig keeper Peter Gulacsi into a clumsy pass, which was lifted back to Di Maria for 2-0.

The former Manchester United star capped off his night in the 55th minute, staying alert amid protests from Leipzig defenders to find Juan Benat in the box, who headed in the third.

If Bayern Munich do steam through Lyon as expected, young Alphonso Davies could be in for a tough night against the experience of the in-form 31-year-old.


Neymar’s shooting boots go missing
Sweat will have begun to bead on the forehead of any PSG fan when, after five minutes, Neymar missed his first chance of the night.

Mbappe played a perfectly-weighted ball through to the Brazilian who was one-on-one with Gulacsi, only for the winger to poke the ball onto the post.

Since joining from Barcelona in 2017, Neymar has been unmistakably linked to PSG’s Champions League heartbreaks, even when he wasn’t on the pitch.

The Brazilian was shut-out by Real Madrid in a 3-1 defeat to the Spaniards in 2017-18 before Neymar sat-out injured for the second-leg, watching a 2-1 defeat from the sidelines.

Last season the 28-year-old was again absent as Manchester United turned around a 2-0 first-leg defeat to sneak through with a 3-3 victory on away goals.

Di Maria’s brilliance may have been the decider on Tuesday, but all eyes will be on Neymar once again for the final.


Mukiele has Premier League potential
Dayot Upamecano may be the higher rated of RB Leipzig’s centre-backs but clubs looking to reinforce in defence this summer could do a lot worse than the man to his right in Lisbon.

Nordi Mukiele has been linked with a move to Liverpool this summer and showed flashes of why the Premier League champions see him as a viable option.

The defender looked comfortable on the big stage barring a slip-up which led to PSG’s final goal, powerfully shutting down Neymar and Mbappe on multiple occasions.

The 22-year-old right-back made 37 appearances for Leipzig this season and although he still has three years left on his contract in Germany, Mukiele will be being watched closely by Europe’s elite.


Leipzig feel Werner’s absence
It always seemed unlikely that Leipzig would go unaffected by the loss of their all-time record goalscorer.

Timo Werner scored four goals in the Bundesliga side’s route to the quarter-finals before making his £54m move to Chelsea, opting to join Frank Lampard’s squad for pre-season.

Dani Olmo and Tyler Adams scored in Leipzig’s stunning 2-1 victory over Atletico Madrid to reach the semi-final but Julian Nagelsmann – who chose to set-up more defensively on Tuesday – couldn’t work around the German’s absence against Presnel Kimpembe and Thiago Silva.

Leipzig fired only three of their 14 shots on target, something that will be Nagelsmann’s primary concern this summer.


Nagelsmann comes unstuck
Thomas Tuchel is credited as the man who ‘shaped me the most’ by Julian Nagelsmann. The difference between master and apprentice became clear in Lisbon.

The 33-year-old former Hoffenheim coach is the Bundesliga’s youngest ever boss and recorded an impressive third-place in the German top-flight this season.

However, his decision to switch to a more negative setup proved fatal as PSG took control from the off, with Leipzig never truly slowing the flow of Parisian attacks.

Nagelsmann’s rise to the top isn’t complete yet and Tuesday night demonstrated that he is in the perfect place to develop before his inevitable big move comes.

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