PSG’s resounding success in France is supercharged by an economic bedrock unlike any other in the country. There is no doubting that, but will their profuse dominance ever sweep to the European stage?
Command of a division both financially and in terms of silverware is something only Bayern Munich can resonate with. Their authority in German football is ever-scrutinised. However PSG yearn for something more, and though three domestic quadruples in the previous four seasons underscore ultimate supremacy, many believe Europe’s elite competition is the only destination where the Parisians can be truly examined.
Silverware increased, but on the wrong stage…
Their brimming trophy cabinet of domestic accolades is somewhat overlooked. An illustrious recent past in France is a real disparity compared to their fruitless struggles in Europe which, the majority will agree, is what forms an increasing gap between PSG and their continental counterparts.
Handed many opportunities to go toe-to-toe with Europe’s seasoned contingent, the Parisians have failed to reach even the semi-finals of the Champions League since 1995, back in the George Weah days. Barcelona and Real Madrid, names that reel off the tongue when listing European juggernauts, have both undermined the domestically decorated club on the nights that matter.
Barca completed one of the most famous comebacks ever last season against Cavani and crew, and Spanish ghosts haunted PSG for a second successive campaign when Real came to the French capital earlier this year. European shrewdness is the pièce de résistance the Parisians long for—it aided Barca and Los Blancos in their destruction of the French side.
It is, frankly, those matches that stick in the memories of critics rather than the best of PSG’s Ligue 1 triumphs. Their crushing defeat to Barcelona in last term’s Champions League (after they led 4-0 in the first leg) will replay like a nightmare in the minds of those PSG supporters. That contrasts to their 7-1 obliteration of Monaco to clinch a fifth Ligue 1 title in six seasons in mid-April—normal service as far as the serial championship-winners are concerned.
A level below the best
PSG are the paragon of money not equaling success at the top stage. Alluded to beforehand, they lack the European heritage that Barcelona, Real Madrid and even Juventus hold to join a majestic clan of the world’s best.
While Barca and Real Madrid need no introduction to their vast achievements on every platform, Juventus’ homegrown players and honest philosophies make them the metaphorical ‘lovable uncle’ of the European world.
However for all of PSG’s success which, don’t get me wrong, is still incredibly impressive, there is a clear distance between themselves and the rest. The economic aspect hasn’t made inroads and Champions League disappointment continues to be the obstacle between them and making history.
Monaco’s title, PSG’s reaction
Leonardo Jardim led Monaco to a remarkable Ligue 1 triumph last season, made even more special by its challenge to the previously unmoved Parisian powerhouse.
But PSG reacted as expected and nabbed Monaco’s star man of that season Kylian Mbappe for £165.7m (transfer to be finalized this coming summer). An extortionate spend on Neymar (£194.6m) swiftly followed. Their haphazard spending patterns is one of the central reasons they cannot be properly regarded as a European great, and it only makes them less attractive to football purists.
In France, PSG can pretty much have it whatever way they fancy. Neymar’s injury proved no more than a fly in the ointment as they continued their procession to the league title in unwavering style. That alone shows they are so far ahead from the rest their talisman isn’t even necessary, and Cavani joined Mbappe in ensuring the Parisians had no issues in bringing the trophy back to the capital.
But, waving the money around to reassure their dominance and quickly extinguish suggestions of a consistent challenge from Monaco is, unfortunately, the PSG way nowadays. It doesn’t win them European accolades, however, and that is where the most concentrated scrutiny lies.
New managers, same old story
Every fresh boss that enters the Parc des Princes must just be given a slip of paper saying ‘win the Champions League’. Ligue 1, Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue look a formality for PSG year upon year (2016/17 an anomaly) and Europe is where managers, and indeed the club, are judged.
With Thomas Tuchel set to come in before the start of the next campaign the task looks plain and simple yet again. Unai Emery apparently failed, even though he secured a domestic treble, and the owners’ focus on Champions League triumph surely means we should all follow suit.
Carlo Ancelotti and Laurent Blanc were the so-called ‘failures’ before then, and the first PSG boss to win the Champions League will be the best remembered.
How the riches correlate to European growth (or decline?)
|Season||Champions League finish|
|2011/12 (takeover by Oryx Qatar Sports Investments)||Failed to qualify|
|2016/17||Round of 16|
|2017/18||Round of 16|
It hasn’t been the charge towards Champions League glory many might have expected when PSG became one of the wealthiest clubs in the world.
The likes of Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Real Madrid all have the financial backing too, but a slow rise to European prominence rather than a quick fix of league and cup trophies mean they are leaving PSG in the dust.