Since being taken over by QIA in 2011, heavy investment has allowed PSG to dominate French football, and aside from the 2016/17 season, the club has won the league every year since 2013. However, the Parisians have failed to go the extra step and seriously challenge for the Champions League, with the side failing to go any further than the quarter finals since their takeover. Each year, fresh investments have improved the squad further and further and now, with the two most sought after forwards in world football, Mbappe and Neymar, both in their roster, their team is better than ever. So are the French giants finally good enough to win the Champions League?
The current squad
Most would probably agree that PSG have the most dangerous front line in world football at the moment. Neymar is the most expensive player of all time, and despite only moving to the club in 2017, the Brazilian superstar has been continuously linked with an even more expensive move to Real Madrid since before the 2017/18 season even ended. Meanwhile, Kylian Mbappe’s reputation is sky-high after the 19-year old enjoyed a stunning World Cup for France, and he too has been relentlessly linked with Real this summer. PSG’s front three is completed by Edinson Cavani, who has hit 171 goals in 247 games for the Parisians, a record which is undeniably outstanding. Some claim that the Uruguayan fails to perform in big games, however, he shone at this summer’s World Cup before picking up an injury, and was the star of the victory over Portugal in the Round of 16. There is also considerable depth in the PSG attack with the likes of Julian Draxler, Angel Di Maria and highly-rated youngster Timothy Weah in the squad, in addition to deadline day signing Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, who was brought in on a free transfer as extra back-up.
There is also significant quality behind the front line, with the likes of Marco Verratti in midfield alongside Adrien Rabiot, who remains at the club despite being strongly linked with Barcelona over the summer. In defence, players such as Dani Alves and Thiago Silva also make up an impressive back line, which was further strengthened by the signings of Juan Bernat and Thilo Kehrer over the summer, whilst Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon also joined on a free transfer.
It is these defensive reinforcements that may prove key for PSG this season in the Champions League, as the club’s hopes of pushing for the trophy will hinge upon an improved defensive performance. With the quality and depth of the attack, the side will have no problem scoring goals, but PSG must improve at keeping out goals if they want to progress any further in Europe. Last season PSG bowed out of the Champions League in the Round of 16 as they conceded five goals over two legs against Real Madrid, and the season before that, PSG beat Barca 4-0 at home but then catastrophically lost 6-1 in Catalonia as they failed to prevent a stunning comeback orchestrated by Neymar. Moreover, in the first few weeks of the season, PSG have given away careless goals to lesser opposition. In the second game of the season, a lack of communication between young left-back Colin Dagba and Thiago Silva gifted Guingamp a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes, and then in the third game of the season, Thilo Kehrer gave away a careless penalty which allowed Angers to take a 1-0 lead after 21 minutes. In both games PSG came back to win 3-1, but such needless defensive mistakes will need to be ironed out by new boss Thomas Tuchel if the Parisians hope to compete with Europe’s other top clubs.
PSG will have to overcome some serious opposition if they are to become European champions. However, there are question marks hovering above a number of Europe’s juggernauts at the moment.
Real Madrid have won the Champions League three times in a row, but there is uncertainty surrounding Los Blancos as the club’s ultimate galactico, Cristiano Ronaldo, left for Juventus this summer, and no one was signed to replace him. Gareth Bale stole the show in last May’s final and he may well fill the void left by CR7, but injury problems have blighted him since he arrived in Madrid, and if he does get injured again this season then Real’s front line will be considerably worse than last year’s. There is similar uncertainty at Ronaldo’s new club Juventus. The club has come close to winning the Champions League in recent seasons and some have predicted that the Portuguese talisman will give the Old Lady the extra boost that they need to finally win it. However, he may well need time to settle at the club after having spent so long in Madrid, and whilst his goal-scoring record is second to none, Juve will need more than just goals to win the trophy.
Barcelona and Man City are also serious contenders, with both sides enjoying phenomenal domestic campaigns last season but ultimately underperforming in Europe. After pulling off a jaw dropping comeback against PSG in the 2016/17 campaign, Barca allowed Roma to pull off an equally stunning one last season and knock them out. Similarly, City produced their worst performance of the season against Liverpool in the first leg of the quarter final, and failed to turn the tie around in the second leg. As last year’s finalists, Liverpool could also be a threat in Europe this season as they have continued their excellent form in the opening weeks of the Premier League and have strengthened their squad over the summer. Finally, Bayern and Atletico Madrid should also not be written off, both sides failed to showcase the best of their abilities in last season’s tournament, but both sides also have very strong squads and considerable experience of reaching the latter stages of the competition.
PSG’s squad is better than ever, and their front line in particular has potential to wreak havoc in this year’s competition, but the club will have to ensure that they have defensive stability in order to seriously challenge for the Champions League title. The Parisians will face some stiff opposition in Europe, but there is uncertainty surrounding how Real Madrid and Juventus will perform, whilst Barca and Man City will have to replicate their domestic form to stand a chance of lifting the trophy. The Champions League is always very difficult to predict, but PSG are certainly in with a chance, and may be able to capitalise on the question marks hovering over some of Europe’s other behemoths.
All stats taken from transfermarkt.com.