Paris Saint-Germain made Real Madrid "weak" during Wednesday night's 3-0 win in the UEFA Champions League, according to two-goal hero Angel Di Maria.
Di Maria's brace and a stoppage-time goal from right-back Thomas Meunier gave Les Parisiens all three points in Group A and left Los Blancos soundly beaten at the Parc des Princes.
The result was even more surprising because PSG achieved it without the suspended Neymar and injured strikers Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani. Di Maria described how PSG overcame their absences and set about breaking Real down, per ESPN FC's Jonathan Johnson:
"No, I think we made them weak. Running so much, pressing so hard and doing our passing — we know they struggle a lot trying to recover the ball. I think that was the most important thing we did.
"I am happy. Not because of the goals but because of how the game went. We trained for these past two days and it came out perfectly. This is the most important thing and we are very happy about that."
Di Maria's reference to the impact of PSG's pressing game is telling. It's a sentiment echoed by Real boss Zinedine Zidane, per Perform (h/t AS): "What has worried me is to see my team without the necessary intensity."
Real did look unable to cope with the pace and ferocity of the hosts' attempts to hunt for possession in packs. None of the decorated members of the visitors' midfield showed the application and tenacity of former Aston Villa and Everton enforcer Idrissa Gueye:
Seeing players of the trophy-winning pedigree of Toni Kroos, Casemiro and James Rodriguez fail to match the effort of Gueye has to have left Zidane deeply concerned.
He should be just as worried by his team's inability to make an impact in attacking areas, despite Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema having goals chalked off by VAR and the linesman's flag, respectively:
The manner of the defeat in the French capital is likely to increase the pressure on Zidane. It will also raise doubts about the transfer policy of the La Liga giants.
Di Maria's masterclass offered a reminder of how often Real let top-class players move on. The Argentinian maestro was offloaded to Manchester United in 2014, despite helping Los Blancos win the Champions League with a superb display against Atletico Madrid in the final.
Rodriguez replaced him after starring for Colombia at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Yet while Real were willing to let Rodriguez spend the last two seasons on loan with Bayern Munich, Di Maria had been establishing himself as one of the most important players in PSG's squad:
Di Maria helped PSG prove the squad can cope without their star-studded front three and still win a big game in Europe. In the process, Les Parisiens showed up the growing fragility in a Real team a shell of the group that won three Champions League trophies in a row under Zidane before last season.