Having only dropped two points from their opening eight Ligue 1 games, Paris Saint Germain (PSG) are well on their way to domestic domination once more. They’ve already scored six in two league games and five in another. With the flair and exuberance of a world-record signing of an international superstar and the power of Edinson Cavani, their frontline is proving too much for French defences to handle.
Nevertheless, forget the Ligue 1 title, which many expect PSG to stroll to at a canter, the Champion’s League is what the club’s Qatar owners really want to get their hands on and 2017/18 seems like their best opportunity. A 5-0 demolition of the Celtic and a surprisingly comfortable 3-0 home success over the European giants Bayern Munich in the group stages so far has seen bookmakers sit up and take note. For instance, BetStars now has the Parisians as the second favourite to win the competition for the first time at 9/2 behind favorites Real Madrid who has 4/1 odds.
It begs the question as to whether PSG really is winning material this season. Certainly, their front line would suggest that they can achieve those ambitions. It is currently the most expensively assembled set of attackers in the history of the game. Combine their recent signing and Cavani with the capture of the Monaco hot-shot Kylian Mbappe and you have a trio of front men costing the best part of €466 million.
For sure, PSG has match winners at the front end of the pitch, but it’s probably elsewhere in the spine of the team that will be the difference between their success and failure in Europe this term.
Aside from players speaking to the strength of the squad in-depth, it is also true that the club has plenty of proven Champion’s League winners within its ranks: Brazilian full-back Dani Alves has already won the trophy three times with Barcelona; Thiago Motta has medals from his time in Barcelona and Inter Milan; and Angel Di Maria won European football’s biggest prize in Real Madrid in 2014.
It’s also important for PSG supremo Unai Emery to focus not only on his superstar strikers but to ensure his players focus firmly on what they do when they’re not in possession. Being hard to beat is one of the hallmarks of any successful side in Europe, particularly during those tricky away legs in hostile environments.
If you take a look at some of the recent sides to dominate in Europe, notably Barcelona, even with the likes of Messi, Suarez, etc. on the attack, when they lost the ball, they pressed hard and fast to win it back. It was a tactic that strangled the opposition and ensured Barcelona could play the majority of games in their opponent’s half.
The onus will be on the likes of midfield powerhouses Moura, Motta, and Verratti to play high up the pitch and harass the opposition midfield into conceding possession time and again.
When you consider the ages of the players like Julian Draxler and Marco Verratti who are only 24, PSG is certainly investing in the future and aren’t just looking for immediate, one-off success. There is a dynasty developing in France. With the right attitude, PSG could be the new kings of Europe for many years to come.