Another season of Champions League football and another disappointing campaign for PSG. Last night, the dreams of the inaugural UCL title for the Parisians came crashing down in the last 30 minutes of the game, when it was looking all sunshine and rainbow before that. While the world of football is still buzzing and gasping for what they witnessed last night, the inevitability of agony for PSG in UCL agony was always there, lingering inside everyone at the back of their mind.
PSG had it coming
The biggest aspiration of winning the Champions League was slipping away from the hands of PSG and it felt like the PSG players were going through the motions, waiting for the inevitable. Albeit it may feel shocking to some, PSG had this sort of disappointment coming. Mbappe was there performing out of his skin regularly to bail them out this season and papering the cracks and chinks in PSG’s armory. But even his brilliance and heroics over the course of two legs weren’t enough to overhaul the obvious weaknesses. They were either overawed or overconfident yesterday, making unnecessary plays and mistakes; ergo, Benzema punished them with 3 goals in 17 minutes to end their campaign.
Lack of competition, fire, and intensity in the domestic league is also hurting them big time. PSG can win most matches in Ligue 1 even on their bad days. That is allowing complacency and arrogance to creep in, which is hurting them when they play big teams, especially in UCL. Having said that, it is also upon players to make those adjustments. They need to dig deep within themselves and play with more urgency and intensity even in the domestic league so that it comes to them instinctively, come to the Champions League. Unfortunately, they have been lagging in that department.
Players bigger than Club
Basically, the group of players has run PSG in recent years instead of a manager. They are too powerful, their egos and presence are too big for a manager to manage. A manager has to adjust himself to those players, not the other way around. Hence, his hands are tied when it comes to strategies, substitutions, and style of play. Look at Tuchel, Emery – the future of PSG manager looks imminent. There are way too many alphas in PSG at the moment and that isn’t helping their cause. When there isn’t anyone, be it a captain or the manager that can have his say and draw the line in the sand when required, the wheels are bound to come off sooner rather than later.
All the top teams in the world today – Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Real Madrid – have big superstars in their own right. However, they all play for each other, as a team, in attack and defense. They keep their egos in check and play for the bigger goal – winning matches and trophies. A team can barely have a liability in defense these days, especially against big teams, because the gameplay is so intense and demanding. For PSG, their biggest weapon in attack – the front three – is their biggest frailty in defense. When the opposition hunts you down as a pack, you have to defend as a unit. Even if one player does not do his part enough, the opposition can hurt you. For PSG, their front three rarely trackback, press, and pressurize the opposition. And when you are outnumbered by that margin, it’s like playing with fire.
PSG always had stars and this time around, they boast some of the best of all time. Even the generational talents like Messi, Neymar, and Mbappe joining forces couldn’t deliver their biggest ambition. It feels almost imperative that they need going back to their drawing board and build a proper team, instead of a group of Superstars. Meanwhile, they need proper guidance in management. They need to back a manager and his vision to build a team. They need to buy into his style and strategies and allow him to do his job for at least a few seasons. PSG needs a change in their mentality and for that, they need a change in their culture. Or else, the inevitability of PSG’s agony will remain the same.