Paris Saint-Germain were caught cold by Real Madrid’s ability to find an extra gear in their thrilling Champions League last-16 tie, says Guillem Balague.
The runaway Ligue 1 leaders were seven minutes away from a positive result in the first leg at the Bernabeu with the score locked at 1-1 after Adrien Rabiot’s opener was cancelled out by a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty.
PSG dominated large spells against the 12-time winners but Ronaldo’s second and a quick-fire third from Marcelo left Unai Emery’s men with a daunting two-goal deficit to overturn at the Parc des Princes on March 6.
“This was going to be a draw, it looked like a draw and PSG seem comfortable with a draw,” Balague said. “But, of course, PSG forgot that Real Madrid have got an extra gear – a Real Madrid gear.
“It has nothing to do with the performance, or who deserves it more, Real Madrid appear when it’s needed and they’ve been doing now for four years now. In fact, for decades!
“They’ve been to at least the semi-final in the last seven seasons and they look to be heading the same way, draw permitting.
“Regardless, on tonight’s showing, Real Madrid clearly showed they have the qualities to go far in this competition.”
With PSG coasting to a draw at the Bernabeu, it was Zinedine Zidane’s utilisation of his substitutes that swung the tight contest in Real Madrid’s favour.
And Balague singled Marco Asensio, Gareth Bale and Lucas Vazquez out for praise after their contributions from the bench.
“The Real Madrid fans were demanding fresh blood and something new as PSG were controlling the game,” he added.
Ronaldo became the first player in history to score 100 goals for one club in the Champions League with the equaliser on the stroke of half-time.
Yet, while Ronaldo stole the headlines, PSG’s failure to provide the platform for Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to win the game proved telling for Balague.
“Ronaldo scored two more goals, that’s eight consecutive games he’s found the target – the record is nine,” Balague said.