Paris Saint-Germain did not cure their defensive problems in a friendly match with twists won against a Saudi selection (5-4) where the two stars Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo each scored, for their probable last duel, Thursday at Riyadh. In terms of entertainment and marketing, this prestigious match was a success. The stadium was filled and trembled with happiness with each ball from “CR7”, author of a double, PSG collected more than 10 million euros, welcome while financial fair play is watching it very closely, and has released his fourth jersey, a black streaked with luminous lines evoking the illuminated Eiffel Tower.
End of this #PSGRiyadhSeasonTeam ! ✅
Paris Saint-Germain win at the end of the #PSGQatarTour2023. ❤️
— Paris Saint Germain (@PSG_inside) January 19, 2023
On the sporting side, however, this distant trip, while PSG conceded its first two defeats of the season in January, did not provide an answer to the defensive fragility of the Parisians. At least he reassured about their “gnaque”. They scored four shorthanded goals, after the exclusion of Juan Bernat (39th). Against an assembly made up of players from the two big clubs in the Saudi capital, al-Nassr and al-Hilal, PSG dominated, even at ten, but conceded many chances.
The defensive concerns of Christophe Galtier’s team crossed the desert, like Sergio Ramos, scorer but passive or guilty on the goals of the All Season Riyad formation. On the 2-2, Ronaldo, yet sandwiched between Ramos and Marquinhos, hits the post with his head, then the Spaniard, completely rips his clearance and offers the goal to CR7 (45th + 6), who must play his Sunday first game of Saudi Championship with al-Nassr against al-Ettifaq.
Ramos is still easily beaten by the South Korean Jang Hyun-soo on the equalizer at 3-3 (56th), which he even pushes in the back, in vain. The action which leads to Bernat’s red also betrays the feverishness of PSG, the chained faults of Achraf Hakimi on Gonzalo Martinez then of the Spanish side on Mohammed al-Dawsari are gross. Last defender, Bernat was logically excluded. Neymar, in bad shape since his elimination in the quarter-finals at the World Cup with Brazil, has, rare thing, missed a penalty, stopped by the goalkeeper of the Saudi selection (45th + 1).
The flashes of Mbappé
Not everything is negative in the performance of PSG, who plays Monday in Lens against Pays de Cassel (R1, 6th division), in the Coupe de France. Kylian Mbappé, briefly captain in the second half, after Marquinhos’ exit and before going out in turn (62nd), regained his brilliance, he offered “Marqui” the goal of 2-1 (43rd) and Ramos the 3-2 (54th) then scored on penalty 4-3 (60th).
Other good news, the young people entered well at the end of the match, where Ismaël Gharbi offered a beautiful opening the goal of K.-O. to Hugo Ekitike (78th). Despite the defeat, the public enjoyed themselves until the end. And until Talisca’s goal (90th + 4), he had mainly come to see the clash between Ronaldo and Messi. The brand new world champion shone first, scoring from the start on a superb shady pass from Neymar (3rd).
Then CR7 equalized on a penalty (34th sp), after being involuntarily boxed by Keylor Navas on a clearance, before repeating the gift from Ramos, another former partner at Real. He came off in the 61st minute to a standing ovation, repeated when he received the man of the match trophy. Messi followed him a few minutes later, with a long hug with his compatriot Marcelo Gallardo, coach of the Saudi formation.