Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid stayed tied at the top of their Champions League group after playing out a forgettable goalless draw at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday.
PSG saw the lion's share of possession in the opening exchanges, though with the exception of a low drive from Blaise Matuidi, they failed to test Keylor Navas. Their build-up play was promising, but precision in the final third lacking; on several occasions they found themselves through on goal, only for the offside flag to fly.
As the game wore on, Madrid seemed to grow in confidence. Their usual speed on the counter-attack gave way to an intricate passing game, and they steadily forced their hosts ever deeper. PSG keeper Kevin Trapp denied Jesé after the youngster was threaded through by Toni Kroos, before the German was called into action on two Cristiano Ronaldo headers in quick succession.
It took until the first few minutes of the second half before PSG threatened again, with Edinson Cavani going close when he stabbed a deep Thiago Motta cross just wide. The hosts continued to enjoy a sustained spell of possession, though after the early chance they struggled to find a breakthrough.
They should've been punished within the final 20 minutes, though a rare Madrid counter-attack culminated in Ronaldo lashing wide at the far post. PSG survived the scare, but their late dominance was sterile: 0-0 was how it ended.
Paris Saint-Germain: Trapp; Maxwell, Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Aurier; Matuidi, Thiago Motta, Verratti (Lavezzi 80'); Cavani (Pastore 66'), Ibrahimović, Di María (Lucas 67').
Real Madrid: Navas; Marcelo, Varane, Ramos, Danilo; Isco (Modrić 69'), Kroos, Casemiro, Vázquez; Ronaldo, Jesé (Cheryshev 73').
1. Rafael Benítez can be flexible
The Real Madrid manager is notorious for his tactical rigidity, though the absence of his only out-and-out striker, Karim Benzema, encouraged him to switch to a 4-4-2 for this match. It certainly wasn't a perfect solution, seemingly limiting their threat on the counter-attack and reducing Ronaldo's time and space in possession, though it was interesting to see Benítez trying something different.
2. PSG are frustratingly slow in possession
Real Madrid's switch in formation gave their hosts a numerical advantage in the center of the pitch, and meant Benítez's midfield four had to sit very narrow in order to make up the deficit. PSG could've capitalized with quicker switches of play, though their pedestrian passing made life considerably easier for Madrid's defense. It's hard to see Laurent Blanc's side harming the very best teams until they find more of a cutting edge.
3. Serge Aurier is great
Credit to Paris Saint-Germain's right-back Aurier, who was perhaps the only stand-out performer in a rather forgettable game. The Ivorian youngster had his loan move from Toulouse made permanent in the summer, and he seems absolutely at home on the biggest of stages. Quick as lightning going forward and solid as a rock at the back, he's looking a wonderful permanent acquisition.