Another year, another disappointment in the Champions League for Paris Saint-Germain. When will they learn that the Champions League is not for sale?
After spending €222-million on Neymar and €180-million on Kylian Mbappe, albeit on an initial loan deal, this was supposed to be PSG’s year to take that final step up and mount a serious challenge for European football’s ultimate prize, the Champions League.
The French club has spent over €1-billion on players since the arrival of their Qatari owners in June 2011.
Despite this huge investment by Qatar Sports Investments; winning countless titles in the French League and Cup competitions over the past six years; and bringing in many top-class players and management teams, the Champions League still eludes PSG.
So, when the French Giants drew the biggest fish of them all, Real Madrid, in the last 16 of the Champions League, it gripped the imagination of football fans all over the world. Could this tie signal the changing of the guard from one superpower to another? Could PSG finally overcome top-class opponents in the knockout stages of Europe’s premium competition?
And the answer, yet again, is no.
Real Madrid are not enjoying the most successful of campaigns: they sit 15 points behind Barcelona in La Liga, they have been knocked out of the Copa Del Rey and they have suffered some embarrassing defeats at the hands of teams whom they were expected to ease past.
Despite this poor season, the defending European champions have still managed to turn it on in the competition that they love so much, and had little problem doing so against PSG.
The first leg may have been a tight affair and if we are being honest, the 3-1 scoreline in favour of Los Blancos was not a true reflection of the game and the French club would have been optimistic about their chances going into the second leg at home.
The second leg, however, did not go according to plan. In fact, the Parisians may be experiencing deja vu, as this loss is similar to last season where they threw away a 4-0 first-leg lead against Barcelona. Once again, they failed to perform against Europe’s elite and now find themselves out of the Champions League at an early stage.
While Unai Emery and his team will bemoan the absence of the injured Neymar, they can’t hide from the fact that their expensively assembled team has yet again failed to produce on the biggest stage.
The loss could well have been Emery’s last in the Champions League as the impatient owners will likely look to throw more money at a new manager who will be tasked with doing what no other has done since the arrival of the Qatari owners: win the Champions League.
Photo: Christophe Petit Tesson/backpagepix