Paris Saint Germain – famously known as PSG, is not only one of the biggest clubs in French or European football, but also occupies the highest echelons of global football.
The Red and Blues have been dominating French football for decades now since it was founded 50 years ago in 1970. But the club changed entirely in the 2010s when the Qatar Sports Investments (QSI), led by chairman Nasser Ghanim Al-Khelaifi (who is also the President of PSG), took over. The club quickly rose to become one of the European giants under Al-Khelaifi and has become one of the wealthiest football teams in the world.
Although they have managed to find little success in European football in the past, there is no doubt that their best runs have come under Al-Khelafi who has managed to bring in some of the biggest names or superstars in world football including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Neymar, Edinson Cavani, David Beckham, Di Maria, Kylian Mbappe and many more to develop this club in terms of popularity, support, sponsorships and revenue. PSG is also the most successful football club in the history of French football with 9 Ligue 1 titles, 12 Coupe de France, 8 Coupe de La Ligue and 9 Trophées des Champions.
Paris Saint Germain (PSG) was a result of merging of the clubs Paris Football Club and Stade Saint-Germain in 1970. PSG played its first game at the Parc de Princes in 1974 and soon became one of the top clubs in France after winning several trophies in the 80s and 90s.
The mantle of France’s biggest club was worn by Marseille. PSG’s destiny however changed when it was taken over by Qatar Sports Investment. This transformed them into the biggest club in France, eclipsing its arch rival Marseille.
The new owners were able to bring in some of the biggest players and sponsors in the world that helped PSG become one of the wealthiest clubs in the world.
Their first big signing came when they signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic from AC Milan in 2012 and brought in legendary former AC Milan manager Carlo Ancelotti and both of them helped PSG win its first league title in 21 years. Although Carlo Ancelotti left for Real Madrid the following season, Zlatan stayed and went to become one of the greatest players in the history of Ligue 1 and PSG by helping PSG win 4 league titles and 12 trophies in total, in a span of only 4 years.
But it was really under the former legendary footballer Laurent Blanc that PSG saw its best years when he took over as the manager after Carlo Ancelotti left for Real Madrid. Along with Zlatan, Blanc helped PSG win 11 total trophies and 3 Ligue 1 titles in only a span of 3 years, earning both of them a legendary status in the history books of Ligue 1 and PSG. However, domestic success was not deemed enough by the owners as everybody wanted PSG to win a European title which didn’t look as if it was going to happen under Laurent Blanc which eventually led him to parting ways with the club. PSG’s talisman Zlatan also left for Manchester United. Many attributed PSG’s failure in European competitions to the lack of competitiveness in Ligue 1.
Things did not change under new manager Unai Emery who replaced Laurent Blanc. Even though PSG still managed to be dominant in France, they could not find any success in the UCL under Emery during his two year stint as the head coach of the team. PSG even blew away a 4-0 lead over Barcelona in the 2016-17 season round of 16, losing 6-1 at Camp Nou in what is considered one of the greatest comebacks in the history of Champions League football. Unai was eventually replaced by Touchel in 2018.
Although sporting events all over the world have been suspended indefinitely due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, including the Uefa Champions League, PSG look like they are in a great shape and form to return to action. They have been very good this season and are well ahead of Marseille in the league table, leading by 12 points. They also managed to crush Real Madrid to top their group in the UCL group stage and then went on to script a glorious comeback from being 2-1 down against Dortmund to beating them 2-0 in the second leg.
One could argue that PSG has the biggest attacking threat in all of Europe as Mbappe has already scored 30 goals for the season in only 33 games in all competitions while Neymar has also showed up in big games and has scored 18 goals in 22 matches in all competitions. Mauro Icardi has also proven to be a great signing for PSG as he has scored 12 goals in 20 league games and also picked up 5 goals in 6 UCL games.
As for the midfield and creativity, Verratti and Angel Di Maria have been in top form with Di Maria looking almost peerless at times especially in high profile encounters such as the games they have played against Real Madrid this season. Ander Herrera and Julian Draxler have been proving their worth as well for the team.
Although his contract ends on 30th June this summer, Thiago Silva’s wife is pretty confident he’ll stay at PSG and continue his captaincy and good form in pursuit of a European championship. However, Silva’s agent is pretty convinced that a return to former club AC Milan could also be the case for Silva. Marquinhos and Bernat have also been playing really well especially in important games as Bernat has proved to be an offensive threat and also manages to complete his defensive duties. In conclusion, the defence looks pretty solid and good enough to compete for the Champions League title.
Under Thomas Tuchel, there is no denying that PSG has made some exceptional signings such as Keylor Navas and Mauro Icardi but it is also worth noting that last summer was the first since 2012 that PSG actually made profit in the transfer window. As for his tactics and man management, in the first UCL match of the season against record winners Real Madrid, Tuchel cruised past them with a final score of 3-0 and that too without superstars Neymar, Mbappe and Cavani. Now although there has been some rumours about the incandescent relationship between Tuchel and Mbappe, there is no denying that both are talented individuals who are completely focused on winning and that has shown in the results too.
Is PSG a threat in Europe?
Thanks to its star studded line up, PSG will always remain a major force to reckon with. Players like Neymar, Angel Di Maria and Keylor Navas who have won the UCL earlier with other clubs are hungrier than ever to prove that they can lift the Coupe des Clubs Champions Européens while playing for the French giants as well.
Along with them also plays the world cup winner and one of the best young players in the world – Kylian Mbappe who has been to a UCL semi final on one occasion with his former club AS Monaco.
The club’s legendary striker Edinson Cavani, who is also the all time top scorer of the club with 200 goals in all competitions, is likely to leave this summer as his contract expires on 30th June 2020. Fortunately, the inform striker Mauro Icardi, who was signed from Inter Milan, is available to lead the attack.
Icardi has scored 12 goals in 20 league games while also managing to score 5 goals in 6 UCL games. But only time will tell whether PSG can vanquish the other European giants such as Manchester City, Barcelona, Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Juventus. The demolition of Real Madrid would have certainly encouraged PSG’s fans to aspire for more.
Season after season PSG has struggled to get past either the round of 16 or the quarterfinals in the UEFA Champions League and haven’t been able to live up to the expectations of its owners and fans. Most sports writers, analysts, former players and fans think the major reason for that is lack of competition in the league itself as PSG has won the league title 7 times in the last 8 seasons.
While it may be true that PSG lack competition in the league, the club has proven its skeptics wrong at least till this point in the incumbent season with regards to the Chamopions League, as the Parisian giant has managed to beat all the top teams it has faced including Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund.