It certainly wasn’t an easy trip to Valencia for Carlo Ancelotti and his squad in the first leg of this Champions League tie, but they managed to take a significant lead while there, and this was a huge positive for them as they headed into the second leg.
Although Valencia had only just drawn against Levante the previous weekend, the Spaniards were, in no way, feeling like underdogs before this game. PSG hadn’t had a nice weekend either, as their number one spot was threatened, but the home advantage (plus the away goals) gave them the upper hand going into this game.
Any mistakes, however, and the French side would lose it all, and for this, Carlo Ancelotti lined up a very strong squad, as did his counterpart, Ernesto Valverde. Carlo wasn’t looking to park the bus at Parc des Princes in any way!
The first half started with both sides very strong and determined. The visitors were, undoubtedly, in a hurry to try and get an away goal even from the first few minutes, but their hosts were determined to keep that from happening. The home side were, for the most part, beaten to challenges and outplayed in midfield, but they somehow managed to get things back. Sirigu was the busier goalkeeper for the first half, although Guaita had to make some tough saves as well.
Valencia had more possession and created more chances than their hosts in the first 45 minutes of the match, managing a total of 6 decent attempts. Jonas had a great first half although he was prevented from capitalizing on any of his chances by a strong PSG defense. Lucas was also very impressive in the first half for his side. A Jonas-Soldado combination seemed to be working so much better than what the home side had brought out (Lavezzi), in what concerns attack.
The second half started off the same way the first half had, but with the tempo a bit higher. There was more urgency in the Valencia play as ever, while Banega came on for Albelda. The away side was faster and passed better, but the home side had also improved in many areas. Jonas finally got his break 10 minutes into the second half, when a wonderful strike from outside the penalty area got past a strong Sirigu straight into the back of the net to bring back some encouragement to the Valencia team.
One more goal, and they were through! Valencia picked up their pace as they looked to find the net again with the introduction of Piatti (in for Feghouli). Unfortunately for Valencia, though, Piatti had only been on for 3 minutes until Lavezzi got an equalizer for his side. It was now one step forward, two steps back for Valencia.
Although the La Liga side still had about 23 minutes plus added time to score, the PSG defense had intensified at this point, making a comeback almost impossible. It continued to be a 50-50 game from this point on, as both sides were under pressure in defense. David Beckham was warming up on the side, but there was to be no Champions League PSG debut for him on the night. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who wasn’t named on the PSG squad for the night, was watching his team in a lot of anticipation, clearly itching to be part of the action.
Valencia continued to look for another goal in the 3 minutes that were added on at the end of the match, but to no avail. The final whistle couldn’t have come any sooner for the home side, and the sighs from the PSG players at full time were enough proof!
Statistic-wise, the away side were the stronger team, leading on overall possession and attempts off target. Meanwhile, the home side were much stronger defensively. Valencia’s passes were, overall, more successful for the whole game, except during the last 7 to 10 minutes when they seemed to have been demoralized.
PSG were stronger on counter-attacks and had more or less better chances (as well as attempts on target). Both teams had 18 attempts on goal. 6 yellow cards were issued between the two teams: 5 to Valencia and 1 to PSG. No players were sent off during this match.
Carlo Ancelotti and Ernesto Valverde lined up the following squads:
PSG Starting XI:
Sirigu, Thiago Silva (c), Álex, Maxwell, Jallet, Matuidi, Chantome, Pastore, Thiago Motta, Lucas Moura, Lavezzi
Subs: Douchez, Sakho, Camara, Armand, Van der Wiel, Beckham, and Gameiro
Valencia Starting XI:
Guaita, Cissokho, Barragan, Victor Ruiz, Mathieu, Albelda (c), Fehgouli, Prejo, Costa, Jonas, Soldado
Subs: Diego Alvez, Joao Pereira, Ever Banega, Guardado, Canales, Piatti, and Valdez
Final Score: Paris Saint-Germain 1-1 Valencia (Agg: 3-2)
Jonas 55′; Lavezzi 66′
Having eliminated Valencia, Paris Saint-Germain are through to the quarter finals. Their opponents will be announced at the draw on 15 March set to take place in Nyon.
Written by Ange Marline