As usual, it began during the first leg and continued in the press conferences ahead of the second game. After a good -and rather fortunate- 1-1 away draw, Chelsea and Mourinho were qualified at kick off, with the advantage of playing a home tie.
Regardless, the Portuguese once again tried to ruin a potentially very exciting Champions League opposition by attempting to get to players, media and more importantly referees alike. And at last, he failed.
Watching the game in France, surrounded by relatives also cheering PSG, this last minute Thiago Silva header will stand as one of my great football memories. From anger to frustration, from hope to the ultimate jubilation of a historical win. PSG are deservedly through, and make a big statement to the rest of European football.
Paris hasn’t won in a ‘fair play, it’s ugly but it works’ sort of a way. Paris, down to 10 and away from home, was the footballing side last night. At the back, the defense is committed but tries to stay fair and play the ball out, despite Luiz’s regular exchanges with Costa. The midfielders play even with little presence upfront: Motta has his best game in a long time, Rabiot comes on convincingly and Verratti is just class.
Already in the first leg, Chelsea scored first but PSG had the ball and chances. Although the game had been as strongly disputed as you’d expect at this level, Mourinho had described PSG as some sort of French Stoke City, against both reason and stats (both sides had committed an equal number of offences). At 1-1 and thanks to Courtois, Chelsea were lucky indeed. And overall, PSG played well across both matches.
Chelsea not interested
By contrast, Chelsea’s team is a reflection of its manager: not interested in the game, they were only ever going to score from set pieces. They foul a lot: 44 times across both ties to PSG’s 37, despite Mourinho’s complaints about Paris’ physicality.They complain and pressurize the ref. In a word, they’re cynical.
The get together around the official on the (very harsh) Ibrahimovic red card is shameful and led by John Terry. Hopefully, this will finally kill off the Utopian, Daily Mail-ish view that English football is pure and fair, but rotten by foreign influence.
Diego Costa is a fantastic player. Yet his mission was to get to Luiz, push and hurt those near him. Whilst he always plays ‘to the limit’, he barely looked towards goal all night. Hazard and particularly Willian, true footallers at heart, spent their night carrying out Mourinho’s ugly directives – perhaps they should ask themselves whether they want to play for this sort of side, even if they win silverware.
Tactically, people should question Mourinho’s performance. From his clear choice not to play even after the sending off to his questionable tactical re-positioning of Costa on the wing in extra time, not to mention the useless introduction of Zouma in midfield.
Off the pitch, the Mou halfheartedly admits the best team won, while somehow pushing the bad joke further by highlighting the ref’s performance and linking it to the debacle. But no one cares anymore.
Ultimately, Paris keep going against my own prediction they would get knocked out, and now anything’s possible. Blanc needed this to prove he’s a coach of European standard, Luiz to stop discussions around his price tag, Silva to put the World Cup behind.
Sometimes, football really is a beautiful game, and rewards those who try and deserve. Last night reminds us of this. Last night, the best football team won.