Have PSG Become Genuine Champions League Contenders?
Having spent the best part of a decade wandering in obscurity, Paris Saint Germain have now become the new kids on the big spending block. As they look to purchase the best talent from around the globe, their chequered history is being consigned to the past and new era of Paris based ‘galacticos’ are preparing to make their mark on European football.
With the Qatar Investment Authority funding their expensive recruitment drive it would appear no player is unobtainable and with the club returning to the UEFA Champions League this season, many believe this could be the start of big things in the French capital. It’s an exciting time for the club as they look to become a major force again but given the time it takes to blend a group of new players and the less competitive domestic league they ply their trade in, can PSG really challenge the best teams in Europe?
They’re certainly buying the players to make bigger teams sit up and take notice. The recent acquisitions of Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimovic from AC Milan have made a massive statement of their intent and another equally impressive signature in Napoli’s Ezequiel Lavezzi shows their ability to outbid their rivals for the latest most wanted stars. These new players will compliment full Internationals such as Javier Pastore, Thiago Motta and Jeremy Menez while the Qatari money has also brought in Alex from Chelsea and Maxwell from Barcelona. Former Inter and AC Milan manager Leonardo is their Sporting Director so clearly they have no problem attracting the right calibre of player but these characters must be blended together and have a desire to fight for the same cause.
That is where the management comes in and with Carlo Anchelotti supported by Claude Makelele they have an experienced coaching setup that knows how to win trophies at the highest level. The Italian manager’s domestic record is especially impressive having won nearly every honour on offer during spells with Chelsea and AC Milan but his Champions League successes with the Rossoneri prove he has the tactical knowledge to make PSG genuine world beaters. It would appear that everything is in place for the French side to make their mark next season but such is the competitive nature of European football, many teams often struggle to reach their expected heights straight away. The history books show plenty of teams have been given huge financial backing and yet few have lifted Europe’s most prestigious prize.
Onlookers have witnessed Roman Abramovich fund a complete overhaul at Chelsea but the club still won nothing in the Russian’s first season. Despite the dominance they enjoyed under Jose Mourinho, the Blues failed to lift the Champions League for a further 8 years and while it may have tried the patience of the big spending billionaire, it illustrates how teams need more than just money to beat the best. Manchester City have spent the last few years snapping up the world’s top talent and yet they still limply failed to qualify through the Champions League group stages and even struggled against weaker sides such as Napoli and Villarreal. There appears to be a steep learning curve for teams in their debut European campaign and this is something PSG will have to contend with if they are to exceed expectation on their return to the competition.
While they may have the right man in charge to organize their many well paid stars, a lack of competitive action in Ligue 1 could have a detrimental effect on their ability to challenge the best sides. The French league is not far behind Europe’s best but the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga and Italian Serie A are all more competitive and play to a higher standard. Naturally the likes of Olympique Marseille, Olympique Lyonnais and Bordeaux represent a solid talent pool but no French side has succeeded in Europe’s elite competition since AS Monaco reached the final in 2004 and recent league titles claimed by Lille and Montpellier illustrate the ever changing nature of their domestic game. With no team seemingly willing to take the dominant lead, PSG have an excellent chance to establish themselves as the powerhouses of French football but if they’re stuck in a one horse title race then they may find it difficult to step their game up another level when playing in Europe.
On paper their team is packed with Champions League knowledge but only two members of the current squad have won the competition and history shows how difficult it can be for a team to find their feet after so many years outside the world’s elite. PSG may be the latest high roller to join the top table but they must try to use their newly purchased experience to ensure they’re not running before they can walk otherwise they may well fall flat on their face.
Do you think PSG can win the UEFA Champions League next season? Can Anchelotti mould their new signings into a competitive side?
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