Obsessed with the glory of the Champions League, Paris Saint-Germain began another attempt

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Paris Saint-Germain kicked off their Champions League campaign against giants Juventus on Tuesday after an impressive start to the Ligue 1 season, with the attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe finally realizing their full potential. Will the Parisians finally get rid of their reputation as homeless as well in the premier club football tournament?

Paris Saint-Germain She is a perennial favorite of French League 1 The title – but the least that their fans expect is to win French League, weaker than EuropeThe most important flights. The Champions League It is the stage for Paris Saint-Germain’s most fervent hopes for glory, and over recent years, the tournament’s knockout rounds have provided stages for the disastrous outcome of those hopes.

The Parisians have only made it to the final once since Qatar Sports Investments’ parents took over in 2011, pumping money and boosting hopes – a 1-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in 2020, in one of life’s most underrated Champions League finals. . memory.

Knockout disappointments

Barcelona’s impressive second-round defeat 2017-18 still haunts PSG. In the first leg of the Parc des Princes, PSG showed all the ingenuity that money can buy, with a 4-0 victory. Paris Saint-Germain appears to have joined the ranks of the giants.

But in the return leg – or la remontada (“the return”), as Barcelona fans called it – the French team collapsed in the face of Catalan professionalism in attacking football. It was the 6-1 defeat that seemed to expose Parvins as affectionate amateurs who have no place at the football table.

This phenomenon was repeated the following season when Paris Saint-Germain defeated Manchester United 2-0 at Old Trafford in the 2018-2019 quarter-finals. Instead of consolidating their lead, they collapsed in the second: Man Yu – even as the team’s sad shadow from Sir Alex Ferguson’s glory days – crushed them 3-1.

Then 2021-22 saw PSG’s knockout round collapse again – history repeating itself not as a farce, but as an increasingly ordinary tragedy. or so to say Watchman Football writer Barney Ronay, ‘Strangely life-affirming humiliation’ makes clear that football cannot be bought. For all the money shooting Paris Saint-Germain – despite all the talk that this season will finally pay off – they have collapsed against a historic club with decades-old origins, with Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema scoring a three-legged return to demolish Paris’ lead. Saint-Germain and sent them out of the tournament.

But this time there are some fundamental differences in favor of PSG. Messi had a disappointing first season at the Parc des Princes after he was effectively forced to jump ship from his beloved Barcelona. But now the Argentine is back to his usual form – cutting through defenses with deft passes from impossible angles, and ending with shots that no goalkeeper can stop.

Meanwhile, PSG managed to block Kylian Mbappe from going to Real Madrid – and the French genius remains a mortal threat to opposition defenders, despite questions about his motives and concerns about his working relationship with Neymar.

Unbalanced squad?

But so far in Ligue 1, those fears have proven unjustified for Neymar and Mbappe, with the Brazilian star scoring nine goals just one month into the season. Overall, PSG have scored 24 goals in six matches so far this season.

It helps that Paris Saint-Germain’s new manager Christophe Galtier – known for steering Lille to their surprise Ligue 1 title in 2021 – appears more confident in dealing with the big names than former coach Mauricio Pochettino, as evidenced by his willingness to replace the three stars when the need. is being.

PSG have also managed to shed some aging talent, with the likes of Angel Di Maria, Idrissa Joy and Ander Herrera all leaving. The young Portuguese star, Vitina, has already proven his signature PSG signature since the summer transfer window – he shone in midfield with PSG’s Marco Verratti.

However, despite this world-class attacking trio, PSG’s defense looks squeaky. Sergio Ramos and Marquinhos are two of the best defenders – but they are getting older and, to many observers, they now lack the speed to match the best strikers from the Champions League giants.

The problem is that PSG can no longer rely solely on Qatari money to buy new players, as UEFA has repeatedly fined them for breaching Financial Fair Play rules. The club then failed to bring in a much-needed new midfield half – with their target of Inter Milan’s Milan Skriniar. This leaves a perilous hole in the Parisians’ squad – with very little protection in case an aging defender gets hurt.

Galtier is confident he will overcome this weakness, telling French sports newspaper L’Equipe, “You have to adapt.” However, the PSG manager has no illusions that he will be judged by his performance against the top teams in the Champions League.

“It was a good start to the season, we are scoring goals and playing well. But the Champions League is another level.

Moreover, it is all about PSG facing the big beasts in the Champions League and winning. Nobody expects less than easy victories for Messi, Mbappe and Neymar over Benfica and Maccabi Haifa in Group H.

But Juventus is another matter. A lot depends on tonight’s match with Paris Saint-Germain.