Emery cannot shoulder all of the blame if his players are unable to cope with the pressure at crucial moments in such games. However, he would have had a sleepless night after returning to Paris with the big decisions he made on Wednesday backfiring. From leaving a player of Thiago Motta's experience out altogether, to dropping captain Thiago Silva and choosing to play 21-year-old Giovani Lo Celso in midfield, Emery gambled big before kick-off.
Unai Emery wasn't the only one on the PSG side upset with the refs after their loss on Wednesday pic.twitter.com/ewu5hLJhz7— Goal (@goal) February 15, 2018
But when compared with opposite number Zinedine Zidane, for whom Marco Asensio came on and set up late goals for Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo, it does not look good for him. "The match was just a few centimetres away from proving him right with the big decisions he made," wrote Vincent Duluc in French sports daily L'Equipe. "But, cruelly, the Madrid night ended up highlighting the weak points of a coach guided by his science more than his instinct." Emery was attacked by the wives of Silva and Di Maria on social media after leaving out the pair, and he faces a fight to keep the PSG dressing room together ahead of the return leg on March 6.
PSG head coach Unai Emery believes they can overturn two-goal deficit to Real Madrid https://t.co/mMQg8Ow9B0February 15, 2018
History is not on the 46-year-old's side, though. He has never won a knockout tie in the competition in five previous Champions League seasons with Valencia, Spartak Moscow, Sevilla and Paris. His difficulties communicating in French have perhaps not helped his image in Paris, and his achievements in Spain, notably at Sevilla, cannot be dismissed. But even in his home country he has his doubters, all the more so after another defeat at the Bernabeu, where he has now lost 10 times and drawn once in 11 visits as a coach. "Players like Neymar deserve better allies on the bench," wrote Rafa Cabeleira in El Pais.
"Well you saw Cavani's face and what he thought of it." ? "It didn't work." Owen Hargreaves's brutal assessment of PSG and Unai Emery's tactics against Real Madrid. pic.twitter.com/yv20pFabaY— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 14, 2018