August 19, 2022

Is time up for Pochettino?

Mauricio Pochettino watched his Paris Saint-Germain side unravel before his own eyes after they surrendered a two-goal advantage to be knocked out of the Champions League at the round of 16 stage against Real Madrid on Wednesday night.

PSG arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu with a one-goal advantage following Kylian Mbappé’s last-minute winner in the first leg, but still found a way of throwing it away when it really mattered.

While Madrid started brightly, it was the away side who took the lead through Mbappé, who broke free to race through on goal before bending a venomous shot past past Thibaut Courtois’s front post to give PSG a two-goal aggregate lead.

However the second half saw the game turn on its head completely through the away side’s own doing. After their convincing first-half display, where they looked to exploit Madrid on the counter-attack, Pochettino’s side stayed true to the PSG brand and crumbled completely.

Madrid were able to get their first goal back just after the hour mark as they capitalised on complacency from the PSG defence, allowing Vinicius Jr to lay the ball off to Karim Benzema who fired past Gianluigi Donnarumma to half the deficit.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men began to take advantage of even more sloppy play from the away side, who looked a shadow of the side that had played in the first 45, and eventually found the equaliser 14 minutes from time.

See also  'I don’t trust you' - Joey Barton delivers brutal dismissal of his own player

A lethal counter-attack from the hosts saw Luka Modrić unleash a beautiful pass into the path of Vinicius Jr. After the PSG defenders closed off any hopes of finding a shot, Modrić then found himself with the ball again.

The Croatian midfield maestro was then able to find Benzema with an exquisite pass and the Frenchman did the rest – smashing the ball past Donnarumma to equalise. 12 seconds later, the game had one extra twist.

In true PSG Champions League fashion, they blew their once-comfortable lead as Madrid completed their comeback and Benzema secured his hat-trick after he connected to Marquinhos’ poor attempted clearance to fire Madrid in front and advance to the quarter-finals.

As expected, PSG’s star-studded front line were nowhere to be seen when the going got tough, leaving their teammates incapable of holding back the tide as momentum swung in Madrid’s favour.

It signalled yet another disappointing campaign in Europe and now sparks major questions about Pochettino’s future. The former Tottenham Hotspur boss has been linked with the role at Manchester United, and with his future at the Parc des Princes now in doubt, we could be one step closer to seeing those rumours come to life.