Fortune favours brave Zidane but PSG's latest collapse puts Emery's job at risk

This is a tie in which so much is at stake. With both Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain playing for their season in the Champions League, it is difficult to see how both coaches can survive losing this last-16 series. After the first leg, it is advantage Zinedine Zidane.

Despite poor results in La Liga and the Copa del Rey this term, as well as all the pressure that comes with coaching Real, Zidane was his usual charismatic, calm and smiley self in the pre-match press conference on Tuesday. PSG's Unai Emery, by contrast, looked tired, stressed and haggard as he faced the Madrid media.

It is often said that teams are a reflection of their coaches and perhaps that explains why Zidane has been so successful at Real. He has an aura about him, is always positive and seems to transmit tranquility to his players.

The same cannot be said of Emery. The Basque boss is an anxious presence on the touchline, a coach who rarely sits still and one who does not emanate the same serenity when he addresses the press. Players pick up on all of that.

Emery is a top tactician, of course, but he has a notoriously poor record in meetings with Madrid and Barcelona, his case hardly helped by last season's collapse against the Blaugrana at this same stage of the Champions League, losing 6-1 at Camp Nou after he had masterminded a fantastic 4-0 win in Paris.

In this match, he surprised by dropping Thiago Silva in defence, while Angel Di Maria – who has impressed for the French league leaders this season – was left out for the entire 90 minutes.

Youngster Giovani Lo Celso started in another shock move, the Argentine leaving his hands all over Toni Kroos and conceding the penalty that allowed Madrid a route back into the match when there appeared not to be one.

Emery's changes did not exactly work out either. Thomas Meunier caused a few problems for Madrid down the right, but was taking off the club's all-time top scorer Edinson Cavani really the correct call?

Later, Julian Draxler came on, the German only given six minutes to impress as he replaced Lo Celso; enough time to witness Madrid's third of the night, but little else.

Real Madrid PSG score

Hindsight is always great when it comes to analysing matches, but PSG appeared to look far too often to Neymar for inspiration. The Brazilian shared no passes at all with Cavani, the Uruguayan himself also failing to combine once with Kylian Mbappe. That, surely, is not how Europe's most-feared trident is supposed to operate.

Lo Celso was a gamble that did not pay off and his clumsy challenge cost PSG dear. Why Emery did not call upon Di Maria or Draxler sooner, only he will know, but the former Sevilla coach was left complaining about the match officials.

"A debatable referee call opened the possibility of a comeback," he said. "I've been told there could have been a handball by Ramos. I didn't see it but they suggested it was. If you give the first one, the second one is too. It's your job and if it's a penalty, you have to blow for it.

"It's not a question of justification. I think we could have come back if the refereeing decisions don't go the other way."

Zidane Emery

Goalscorer Adrien Rabiot was less inclined to make excuses. "I am disappointed," he said. "We started by producing the match that we needed to. We always say the same things, we always do the same things, and in the end, we are always floored in the same way."

Such words will not go unnoticed with the PSG hierarchy and although president Nasser Al-Khelaifi complained about the officials, he will also want a coach who can win through adversity.

Emery, having survived a disappointing second-placed finish in Ligue 1 last year plus humiliation against Barcelona, will be unlikely to remain in charge this time unless the Parisians can turn this tie around at the Parc des Princes.

Such a prospect is not impossible for a side that has netted 127 goals already this season – more than any other side in Europe. However, Madrid are now clear favourites and, for that, Zidane must take some of the credit.

The Frenchman hauled off the ineffectual Karim Benzema, replacing the French forward with Gareth Bale with just over 20 minutes left. However, it was the introduction of Marco Asensio and Lucas Vazquez for Casemiro and Isco, respectively, that really made the difference.

Cristiano Ronaldo Real Madrid PSG Champions League 14022018

After one Lucas run on the right, Asensio attacked down the left flank and set up Ronaldo for Real's second, the Spain midfielder then crossing for Marcelo to fire a deflected effort in for 3-1.

The extra energy and verve made the difference and Madrid ended the night with an outcome they could barely have conceived even a few minutes earlier.

"It is a deserved victory after everything we have worked on," Zidane said. "It was a team effort and we have to be very happy. But we know we will have to suffer again in three weeks' time."

So, Zidane lives on, at least for now, although he will have to take Madrid deep into this competition – and maybe even win it again – to keep his job in the summer.

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The same goes for Emery at PSG, of course, meaning the Spaniard will need to start putting together a more positive plan for success in the second leg on March 6.

Because only one of these two coaches can survive losing this tie – and right now that looks like Zizou .