Saturday, December 15, 2018

Is PSG now the team to beat in the Champions League?

David Nugent in Editorial, UEFA Champions League 23 Nov 2017

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In previous seasons, I have talked about big-spending French outfit PSG being the nearly men of the Champions League. I always thought of the Parisians as the great wannabes amongst Europe’s elite clubs.

In recent years, they have come very close to achieving greatness. However, they have had one major failing, which is a habit of shooting themselves in the foot when it really mattered.

However, this season Unai Emery’s side look like they could really join the elite clubs on the top shelf of European football.

On Wednesday night, PSG hammered Scottish champions Celtic 7-1 in the Champions League at the Parc des Princes.

The result was not that surprising considering the gulf in class between the two teams. However, the victory was a historic one for PSG, as the French club have now scored 24 goals in just five group games, the most ever scored in a group section in the history of the Champions League.

A signal of intent

After underachieving last season at home and abroad, the PSG hierarchy decided to go all out in their pursuit of European dominance.

The club from the French capital splashed out a world-record fee of around £200million to bring in Brazilian superstar Neymar. There are few players on the same level as the former Barcelona star, so it was a major coup for PSG.

The other eye-catching move by the Parisians was the signing of French wonderkid Kylian Mbappe. The youngster had become the most in-demand player in world football after helping Monaco to the Ligue One title and Champions League semi-finals last season.

Mbappe is only on-loan from rivals Monaco until the summer. However, that is just a move to comply with financial fair play. The signing of the youngster sent out a message to the world that PSG are big enough to attract one of the world’s brightest young talents.

No concerns over Neymar

Recent reports have questioned Neymar’s lifestyle off the pitch. However, I do not think that anybody should be concerned about the forward if he continues in his current vein.

Neymar likes a party. However, more often than not he produces the goods for PSG. As a footballer, the forward has the potential to become the best in the world, alongside the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

To become the best he has to help PSG win the Champions League, just as the aforementioned pair have in the past. At Barcelona, he was always going to be in Messi’s shadow. At PSG, he is a star that can shine.

Neymar’s future in Paris has come into question in recent weeks, with reports suggesting he come move back to La Liga with Real Madrid. However, the Brazilian has not taken too kindly to the rumours, even swearing at a journalist and storming out of a press conference when asked about the link.

Neymar’s performance against Celtic did not suggest that the forward is unhappy in the French capital. PSG becoming a European heavyweight may well be dependent on keeping Neymar happy, rightly or wrongly. He is that important to the team.

PSG the favourites to win the Champions League

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, coupled with the presence of Edinson Cavani in attack make PSG a very dangerous opponent for any side in the competition.

The French club may finally have enough to challenge the recent European superpowers of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich. In fact, PSG are now the favourites to win the Champions League at odds of 7/2.

PSG have a history of failure in recent years in the Champions League. They have bottled it regularly for want of a better phrase in recent seasons. However, this season they just seem to have a supreme confidence about them.

No team will fancy drawing PSG in the knockout stages of the competition. The French side have the sort of attacking players that make defenders wake up in a cold sweat at night.

However, if they are to final conquer Europe then they will have to overcome that mental block that they have suffered in recent seasons. If they can do that and win the Champions League then PSG can finally say they are a true European giant.

Is PSG the team to beat this season in the Champions League?


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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