This was another fatalistic night for Paris Saint-Germain: the idea of subjugation to collective demons and an elite opponent were always tangible at the Parc des Princes and, indeed, PSG subjugated and succumbed, yet again.

Beneath the malaise, in an overhyped and strangely disjointed 180-minute tie, lay a poignant truth: PSG had developed too little under coach Unai Emery for the grand project to succeed. Once more did the European dream fade away.

The Parisians were the masterminds of their own damnation, the fiery brotherhood of ultras fabricating, through flames and fire, a purgatory from which the ghouls could not be cast, only for Cristiano Ronaldo, a strapping icon, to egress triumphantly. He dived onto his knees and flexed his muscles in celebration. It wasn’t his full-chippendale routine, but Real Madrid’s uber-galactico was instrumental with his goal in the 51st minute.


And a neat goal, imbued with guile and purpose in the build-play, it was. Marco Asensio, with a perfect reverse pass, and Lucas Vasquez combined for Ronaldo to score. For a moment, the Portuguese floated in mid-air, rising above all opponents, as he often does, before nodding the ball past the hapless and helpless Alphonse Areola.

Ronaldo’s goal, the elongation of his remarkable resurgence in 2018 with 16 goals in 15 matches, had a mundane finality. In the instant of the net rippling, the match and the entire tie were over, Real Madrid re-establishing the European hierarchy and reaffirming their Champions League pedigree. PSG were simply left floundering.

On the night, the hosts were desperate. Much of the build up had centred on Neymar. For a fortnight his fifth metatarsal dominated football’s sphere in a melodramatic non-tale of bickering parties and a neurotic Brazilian media pack, who sensed the Seleção’s fortunes at the World Cup were gravely endangered. Little did it matter. Neyarmania and Neymar himself would have been impotent against Real Madrid.

In the group stages, PSG had defeated Bayern Munich 4-0 on home soil, a whiff of European Cup euphoria hovering over the Parc. The Parisians backed up economic might with sumptuous football. The arrival of Neymar was to be the last jigsaw in the QSI puzzle for European supremacy. This was to be the season of PSG redrawing the continent’s map and shifting the balance of power - no longer were PSG to be unwanted nouveau riche, knocking on the door of Europe’s Bullingdon club and peering in from the outside.

Alas, their outcast status hasn’t changed. There was little sumptuous or scintillating about PSG. In a chaotic 90 minutes, PSG played despairingly. They were almost defeatist, disoriented by the lack of a defined game plan or strategy. The Parisians were paralysed by their own incoherence. Their galactic opponents weren’t even playing with their full application - composed, yes, professional, yes, but scarcely vintage. Madrid rolled on with French coach Zinedine Zidane leaving Isco, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Gareth Bale on the bench to opt for a more defensive midfield.

A team with a nucleus of Thiago Silva, Marco Verratti and Edison Cavani, propped up the young, but immature, Kylian Mbappe and the in-form Angel Di Mari had no response. The Italian, a great ball virtuoso, the appointed successor of Andrea Pirlo, embodied the French impotence. He cast the defining image on an ill-starred evening by charging, in a mindless brain fade, at the referee to earn a second booking.

The diminutive playmaker’s sending off was symbolic. In the last two, three seasons Verratti’s full potential has not materialised in Paris. He is emblematic for the club’s stagnation. Obscene amounts of money can buy neither the European Cup nor a team. It can’t buy composure either. At best, individual players can come in to help a club achieve its targets. The prerequisite to success is a good plan, not blind spend thrift. At the Etihad Campus in Manchester the source of investment may also be debatable, but the blueprint for success is solid.

At the end of the game, Real stoked the ball around before delivering a stinging insult with Casemiro’s late deflected winner - a chance goal, but then PSG had left too much to chance all night, sparking all but the end of the Emery era and a renewed phase of introspection - and perhaps true reflection - in the French capital. Only then will there be license for any sort of reverie.