Big spending French champions Paris Saint Germain are desperate to make their mark on this year’s Champions League as they prepare to face reigning English champions Chelsea in the last 16 of the competition.
PSG boss Laurent Blanc has already stated that the French team’s whole campaign will be judged by their European campaign, but Chelsea are unlikely to be easy opposition, despite their poor domestic campaign.
A boy in a man’s world
PSG are in sort of limbo when it comes to the Champions League hierarchy. They have spent big money and that has paid off to a certain extent. They win their one-horse race of a domestic league annually, but it is the Champions League crown that everybody connected with the Parisian club craves.
The problem is the established superpowers of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are still ahead of PSG in the quality, know-how and history stakes. The French club was only founded in 1970.
Real Madrid had already won five European Cups even before PSG were born, while Bayern had claimed three European Cups in the six years proceeding PSG’s formation.
Barcelona are a Jose come lately in the European Cup stakes, as all their five European Cup triumphs have come in the last 25 years. However, they are considered the best club team in the world and have learned how to win the Champions League through picking-up experience.
PSG are still on a learning curve regarding the competition. Still taking infant steps on their road to European manhood. The problem is Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are not likely to go anywhere. They are the daddy’s of the European game.
Football trends see teams go through troughs of form, but all three of the teams mentioned have been perennial challengers for the trophy in the last quarter of a century. Compared to the three superpowers PSG is a boy in a man’s world, no matter how much money they spend.
Progress is being made
PSG are just below that group of teams arguably with the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, who are dangerous teams, but who are not quite good enough to match the talents of the Spanish and German giants.
PSG’s European campaign so far has been pretty successful. The French champions met Real Madrid twice in the group stages, drawing 0-0 and losing 1-0 in the Bernabeu. Not terrible results and games they will pick-up experience from.
The fact that PSG conceded just one goal in the group stages, which came in that defeat at Real, shows that they are a difficult team to break beat. They will head into Tuesday night’s game against Chelsea as favourites such is their growth on the European stage in recent years.
Chelsea are now seasoned European performers, in many ways PSG are similar to the Blues. In the fact they are looking to challenge the elite and a lot of their domestic success has only come along in the relative recent past.
Both have spent big in an attempt to put themselves at the forefront of the European game and will give the European big boys a run for their money. Chelsea are men in terms of the European game, but they are going through a mid-life crisis at home and have bought themselves a motor cycle.
When it comes to the Champions League the Blues seem to come alive, like they have been set free from their mundane existence in the Premier League. They will be no easy victim for the French side, even if the Parisians did knock them out of this competition at this stage last season.
PSG growing up
No doubt PSG are growing as a club and a team under the wily Laurent Blanc, but whether they are ready to give the European big boys a fright is under question. Blanc’s side performed admirably against Real in the group stages, but still did not come out on top, because most teams do not against Los Blancos.
Last season Barcelona put PSG to the sword in the quarter-finals with a 5-1 aggregate victory. PSG have learned lessons and strengthened since then and are odds of 14/1 to win the Champions League this season, behind the usual suspects in the competition.
Blanc’s side are growing and are close to Champions League manhood, but whether they will mature in time to threat the superpowers this season remains to be seen.
Are PSG realistic challengers for the Champions League this season?