In a relatively cool evening in Singapore, Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain fought it out in a bid to leave the city with positivity and confidence.
A 3-2 scoreline to PSG, courtesy of a late winner, was the perfect conclusion to the ICC in Singapore. This game came of more importance for the Parisians, given their Trophée des Champions game against Monaco in Shenzhen on 4th August.
It looked that way from Tuchel’s starting XI, his intention, no doubt, to give some of his first-teamers match fitness.
There were starts for Marco Verratti, Giovani Lo Celso and Angel di Maria, all of whom did not start the Arsenal game. The latter in fact only arrived in Singapore on Sunday but, unlike Thiago Silva who arrived today, was deemed fit to start.
As expected, PSG controlled possession for the majority of the first half but Atletico enjoyed a couple of close chances. That included a Kevin Gameiro one-on-one with Kevin Trapp that he managed to put over the bar.
Christopher Nkunku continued his strong pre-season with a well-taken goal in the box that might have been called a penalty otherwise.
The midfield of Adrien Rabiot, Verratti and Lo Celso were fluid, providing glimpses of their abilities in a three-man midfield together. Di Maria was slightly more quiet, although Atletico’s overloading of the right was a factor.
PSG’s substitutions rolled in at the break with all but Kevin Trapp coming off. Substitutes Alec Georgen and Loic Mbe Soh came off quickly soon, rounding the count to 12.
The French continued to dominate even with a changed XI, Moussa Diaby crashing one shot against the crossbar. He soon made it 2-0 after Timothy Weah played him through.
Victor Mollejo brought one back at the 75th minute with a scrappy finish before Bernede turned the ball past Trapp and into his goal with four minutes of normal time to go.
Just as it seemed penalties was set, Virgiliu Postolachi was set up by Jean-Christophe Bahebeck to score the late match-winner and send his young teammates on a celebratory spree. For a team fielding youngsters across the XI, the second half was impressive.
Atletico were set up in a 4-3-3, a sign of things to come in the following season. They did compete well, with the classic Simeone grittiness. Gameiro’s wasted chance was certainly the key moment that let PSG off the hook.
But with their first team back, this formation might well suit them forward. The result might sting slightly, given Simeone’s histrionics on the sidelines today, but he will be pleased with how his tactics played out.
Tuchel will be pleased with his youngsters.
While his first-teamers did well, it was the performances of Moussa Diaby, Arthur Zagre, Timothy Weah, Yacine Adli and Postolachi amongst others that would encourage him. He has promising youngsters at his disposal, and it’s a bright sign. This win would do a world of good for his squad.
“The performance in the second half is what we can take away," he said. "We left our heart on the field. We showed unbelievable mentality against a team that is so well-known and a team with the best mentality, maybe in the world."
"The youngsters played amazing in the second half. They played with passion and they played with intensity and they gave everything, which is what we need and what they deserved. So this is a very good ending. This is, of course, a good feeling and self-confidence.”
While the attendance was lesser than the Arsenal-Atletico game, it didn’t feel like that at times.
The spree of goals in the second half lifted everyone’s spirits and, while some for rooting for penalties, this win capped off an entertaining ICC.
There was a penalty shoot-out, a near sell-out and a tight game decided by a late winner: lessons to be learnt from this edition.
The International Champions Cup continues in Europe and United States. PSG have played their three games while Atletico host Inter Milan before their season starts.