UEFA's Technical Observer panel reviews Paris's Group A victory over Leipzig on Matchday 3.
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Paris Saint-Germain needed the brilliance of Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi to secure a 3-2 comeback victory over Leipzig on Matchday 3. The Group A standings show Paris top and Leipzig bottom after this third straight defeat yet, as UEFA's Technical Observer panel shows, the German visitors made it an awkward evening for their hosts with their aggressive, courageous pressing game.
1-0: Kylian Mbappé (9)
From a regain on the edge of their own box, Paris launched a 2 v 2 counter, with Julian Draxler's first-time pass from inside his own half sending Mbappé on a sprint up the inside-left channel. Cutting in, he ran at the retreating Willi Orbán and entered the box, sweeping a crisp low shot past the flat-footed Péter Gulácsi and inside the near post.
1-1: André Silva (28)
The Portuguese forward won the ball inside his own half on the right to spark a crossfield move which grew in threat as Christopher Nkunku fed Angeliño, who drove the ball to the far post. There, at the end of a lung-busting run, was Silva to apply the finishing touch for his first Champions League goal for four and a half years.
1-2: Nordi Mukiele (57)
Another right-to-left move was the source with wing-back Angeliño delivering the cross once more, a lovely angled ball over the back line which Mukiele met with an emphatic volley on the five-metre line.
2-2: Lionel Messi (67)
Under pressure from Achraf Hakimi, Tyler Adams gave the ball away to Mbappé, who drove into the Leipzig box before cutting the ball back for Messi. Cue a first-time shot which struck the far post, the ball rolling back across the line for Messi to tap.
3-2: Lionel Messi (74)
The Argentinian's dinked, Panenka-style penalty won Paris all three points, and credit to Mbappé once more for winning the spot kick, his run into the box halted by a push from Mohamed Simakan.
The UEFA Champions League Player of the Match vote went to Mbappé. He was quick, powerful and direct, stretching the Leipzig defence and creating space for colleagues. He scored a fine opening goal and showed leadership when Paris fell behind, playing a part in both Messi goals. "Omnipresent" as L'Equipe called him.
To start with, Paris looked for counterattacking moments. Mauricio Pochettino's men pressed aggressively in the middle third, looking to regain possession and release their front three against the back three of Leipzig. One notable ploy in possession was the way they worked the switch to Draxler on the left to exploit his speed and directness in 1 v 1s. Over on the right, meanwhile, with Messi moving infield into pockets of space, the penetration came from full-back Hakimi attacking high up the wing with midfielder Ander Herrera dropping into the full-back position.
Leipzg's performance showed their qualities as a quick, mobile team with good technical players in all positions, and a clear identity. There was plenty of interchanging of positions in a flexible system which, for example, allowed the centre-backs to step out with the ball, looking to create overloads. The Bundesliga side looked to use the wings to create wide crossing situations and also produced some innovative set-piece routines.
Further back, Leipzig were well-organised in the mid-defensive block and pressed aggressively on the transition. One area of potential weakness was their balance behind the ball when Paris counterattacked, as seen in the opening goal which followed a 2 v 2 at the back.
Paris set up in a 1-4-3-3. When defending, they had a flat midfield and a medium press with Verratti (6) playing a key role – disciplined, mobile and reading the game well, despite the close attentions of the Leipzig players. The full-backs received support from the nearest midfielder in the wide areas, particularly Hakimi (2) from Herrera (21) on the right side.
As already mentioned, in possession Paris looked to Hakimi for width on one side and Draxler (23) on the other, with Messi (30) working inside, dribbling and creating space for others.
Leipzig lined up in a 1-3-5-2 formation which, in possession, resembled a 1-3-1-4-2. They looked to build possession through Adams (14), the pivot linking play, and Amadou Haidara (8) and Konrad Laimer (27) who both operated as 8s, occupying the half-space (between the central and wide channels).
As for their two forwards, one came short while the other went long to stretch the Paris defence. The front two worked hard defensively too, looking to force the Paris centre-backs outside while the wing-backs pressed the opposition full-backs high up the field.
Mauricio Pochettino, Paris coach: "The pressure of the three Leipzig midfield players was more focused on Verratti to try to not let him find his passes. We started well but then our level dropped a little. Our positioning in the middle wasn't right, the distance was too narrow between our three – [Idrissa] Gueye, Herrera and Verratti – and made it possible for them to press more effectively. We had a lot of unforced errors, losing the ball which made it harder to break that first line of the press. They had high energy and aggression. So a difficult game but with the satisfaction of the character the team showed, especially after going 2-1 down, to turn the game around."
Jesse Marsch, Leipzig coach: "We played well and were in control for the majority of the game. After taking the lead, we were in a good position but made a bad mistake. Messi and Mbappé don't need much time or space to score. There are a lot of positives to take away. We were brave and played well out of possession. We created a lot of chances and were also dangerous at set pieces. However, we've also got our backs against the wall here – it will be difficult. We need to make fewer mistakes in the upcoming games."