PSG learnt the hard way that soccer is an unforgiving game in 0-1 loss to Real Madrid

Data provided by Opta

It is really hard to overemphasize how Paris-Saint-Germain dominated the first half yesterday night in Santiago Bernabeu, on match day 4 of Group A of the UEFA Champions League. Yet at half time the score was 1-0 for the hosts, Real Madrid. Dominating the midfield, mastering the possession and creating many opportunities to score was not enough for PSG. As is well known in soccer, to win you must score – and concede less goals than your opponent. PSG did not score: they missed their 10 first half scoring opportunities (one every 5 minutes in a fast-paced, enjoyable first half). And PSG conceded a goal – a strange goal – mainly due their goalkeeper Kevin Trapp and defender Thiago Silva. Silva, who after deflecting a shot by Kroos high in the air didn’t try to get the ball, leaving Nacho open to volley the ball and surprise Trapp, who had deserted the goal in what looked to be an attempt to avoid conceding a corner kick. Once more, a hard soccer lesson that you can play better overall and still lose on the back of one mistake.

The second half was a totally different story though; not as exciting as the high-level first 45 minutes. Real Madrid regained control on the game against 11 tired PSG players, and developed very fast and dangerous counter-attacks.

Key difference maker: Kevin Trapp

Unfortunately for him, the difference maker in the game was Kevin Trapp, PSG’s goalkeeper. Although he stopped several dangerous shots in the second half, his mistake in the first half weighed so heavily in the final result that it is going to be the only thing that will be remembered of his performance. Navas, Real’s goalkeeper, had less work, but saw several dangerous shots ending on the posts (2), or on the crossbar (1), or very near the posts (2).

Here are the grades at team level for three categories: offense, defense, and possession.


Data provided by Opta
Real Madrid Offense
Data provided by Opta

As the graphs show, both teams created many opportunities… but only one was converted into a goal. In the first half, PSG was able to move forward quickly, with a lot of one-touch play, and created many opportunities (Matuidi 21′, Ibrahimovic very close to the posts twice 22′ and 29′, Di Maria 24′, Rabiot on the post 37′, and 39′, a very dangerous crossover by Maxwell 40′, and an incredible failure by Cavani in injury time) before declining in the second half (Di Maria 48’, on the post on a corner kick 79′, and on the cross bar on a free-kick 89′, Ibrahimovic 54′). Real Madrid was more constant offensively, with opportunities by Ronaldo 26’, Isco 45’+2, Ronaldo 49’, Isco 74’, and Kroos 81’, on top of Nacho’s goal. Only 2 of PSG’s 15 attempts at goal were high quality opportunities that had an expected goal value (EGV is the probability of scoring a goal from a shot – and it is a way to measure the quality of the opportunity) above 0.35, compared to 7.0 in total for Real Madrid.

Defense and Goalkeeping:

Data provided by Opta
Data provided by Opta

That’s what eventually made the difference. The only goal of the game was a gift by the PSG defense and goalkeeper, and ball losses by Thiago Motta and David Luiz put their team in repeated danger. PSG only managed to draw two saves from Keylor Navas (a combined .94 EGV) and Real Madrid defense blocked .99 total EGV, while the PSG defense blocked only .34 total EGV and Kevin Trapp saved 2.80 EGV, though he was clearly at fault for Madrid’s goal.


PSG’s possession and movement of the ball created opportunities, but their forwards weren’t able to capitalize on those. PSG had 37 possessions that got into the final quarter of the field, compared to only 25 for Real Madrid. PSG also had twice as many penalty area entries (a pass or other action where the ball moves from outside to inside penalty area) as Real Madrid (31 vs 14), a lot more ball touches (906 to 636), and a better completion rate of passes (92% vs 85%). This explains why PSG was able to create so many attempts at goal, but PSG strikers managed to repeatedly shoot off-target yesterday. And as is well known in soccer, to win you must score …

Originally Published on Univision Deportes at: