Paris Saint-Germain are through to the final of the Champions League for the first time after goals by Marquinhos, Angel Di Maria and Juan Bernat saw them ease to a 3-0 win over RB Leipzig in a one-sided semi-final in Lisbon on Tuesday.
It was 2-0 at half-time, with the first two goals set up by Neymar, the Brazilian again outstanding at the Estadio da Luz, just as he had been in last week’s quarter-final against Atalanta.
Bernat’s goal came in the 55th minute and snuffed out any hopes Leipzig had of a comeback. They could not handle the world’s most expensive player, or the many other outstanding performers in the PSG side, who no longer appear overcome by the sense of occasion that surrounds a Champions League knockout tie.
After seeming to invent ever more absurd ways to lose in Europe in recent years — the 6-1 loss against Barcelona in 2017 and last year’s defeat by Manchester United in the last 16 stand out — despite all the investment by the club’s Qatari owners, here they lived up their billing.
Bayern Munich and Lyon meet in the second semi-final on Wednesday for the right to face PSG in Sunday’s final. Thomas Tuchel’s team are the first French finalists in Europe’s elite club competition since Monaco in 2004.
Nine years after Qatar Sports Investments bought a moribund mid-table Ligue 1 team and began turning them into the untouchable force in France, they are now one game away from winning the trophy that really matters to them.
There is little doubt that the context in Lisbon is helping. PSG have only needed to perform for 90 minutes instead of over two legs in the latter stages of this season’s competition, so badly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
They also need not feel the pressure of having to perform in front of their expectant support — glimpse the other way inside Benfica’s cavernous stadium and you really could forget there was a football match being played.