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PSG:What was Luis Enrique thinking?!

Newcastle’s opening goal against Paris Saint-Germain should have set the warning bells off for Luis Enrique. Marquinhis, his captain and most experienced player, surveyed the field from the corner of his own box and looked for a pass. Three lanes — wide to either wing and through the middle — were cut off. The only option was to go long. Marquinhos tried, only to see his feeble attempt at a weak-footed dink reach Bruno Guimaraes about 10 yards away. Thirty seconds later, the Magpies had the ball in the net.

It was a microcosm of a tactical mishap from Luis Enrique, who found his side not only outrun but also out-thought in a devastating 4-1 loss on Wednesday. It was hard to see what, exactly, the manager was going for when the teamsheets came out. Playing 4-2-4, with four attacking players who like to play high up the pitch, made little sense against a 4-3-3 loyalist in Newcastle’s Eddie Howe.

And it proved as such. PSG were outnumbered in their own half, and up against it almost immediately. Newcastle scored the first goal — a product of Marquinhos’ blunder — within 20 minutes. A second came from a set-piece just before the break. The third, an all-too-easy counter-attack, was added early in the second half. And although PSG got themselves on the scoreboard shortly after, they were never really in the game.


That was mostly because they simply couldn’t keep the ball. Manuel Ugarte and Warren Zaire-Emery were outnumbered in midfield, while PSG’s wide players stayed glued to the touchline. Meanwhile, Kylian Mbappe, the supposed superstar, who was seemingly poised to make the difference on the night, barely touched the ball — and didn’t put a shot on target. Worryingly, Luis Enrique never seemed willing to adapt, his only substitutions were like-for-like switches that did little to change the game. But he should have been able to see that this was not a personnel problem.

Rather, it was a 4-1 Newcastle win that was every bit the battering the scoreline suggested. The Magpies were rampant on the night, pressing in packs and clinical in key areas. And for Luis Enrique, it was a result that suggested that he needs to rethink his tactics when these two sides meet again.


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