In French league competition, one team stands above the rest: in terms of star power, financial backing, and accolades, modern times portray Paris St Germain to be a formidable force in football.
Is that really the case however, or should PSG really be considered a member of the European Elite or are they in fact one of the biggest “Bottlers” in the sport?
Last night, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United overturned a 0-2 deficit to complete a historic comeback against the heavily favoured PSG at the Parc de Princes, winning the tie on away goals following heavy controversy. An injured Neymar and benched Edison Cavani left the Parisians without 2/3rds of their notoriously dangerous front 3. So losing to an in-form Red Devils is surely nothing to be really embarassed by, right?
In the 2017/18 season, PSG spent an extortionate amount of money the likes of which football had never seen. Their spending since 2010 now exceeded over £1bn, and had crippled rivals Monaco by poaching the prodigal Kylian Mbappe, ensuring a strangelhold on Ligue 1. The side was now a true force to be reckoned with on the European stage.
So in that season’s Champions League campaign, PSG traveled to the Bernabeu against Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid, confident of dethroning Los Blancos at the first knockout stage. Instead, the 2 legs instead reaffirmed skeptics of Real’s chances of retention, downing the lavish spending side in blue 5-2 on aggregate. Cristiano Ronaldo humiliated the potential heirs to his throne as the World’s best player.
Then one year further back, saw PSG fall victim to one of the greatest comebacks in footballing history. Everything pointed to Unai Emery’s team continuing their campaign following a 4-0 home victory over a toothless Barcelona. They arrived at the Camp Nou only to leave on a whimper. The future PSG Ace Neymar was the star that night as Sergi Roberto’s last gasp winner completed an unprecedented comeback. Sure, they were soundly beaten by future finalists Juventus, but PSG exited the Champions League at another early stage once more.
We joke about Jurgen Klopp, Tottenham Hotspur, or England in a major tournament as being the stereotypical examples of football’s “Bottlers”. But for a club that has world class talent in almost every position, they have never progressed beyond the quarter finals of the Champions League, and aren’t even seen as a credible dominator in their own league (an unparalled transfer budget does that to you). In comparison to PSG’s shortcomings, here are some other teams who since 2010 and PSG’s overspending have reached the Champions League quarters or semi finals or further that really come as a surprise;
- Schalke in 2010/11 (oh Raul how I loved you)
- APOEL Nicosia in 2011/12
- Malaga in 2012/13
- Borussia Dortmund in 2012/13 (a side no one really gave credit to until this stage, now they’re everyone’s 2nd club)
- Wolfsburg in 2015/16 (Scientist’s called it the Bendtner effect)
- Monaco in 2016/17 (Mbappe took Monaco their first)
- Leicester City in 2016/17 (coming off their historic title victory, they were the last English team standing that season)
In conclusion, PSG fully warrant their new found status as one of football’s biggest bottlers, and when it comes to clubs with Arab investing and lavish overspending, I wouldn’t have it any other way.