After a 0:2 win over Manchester United a lot of doubts that came with PSG chances of winning the Champions League disappeared. With 2 key players missing, the odds were heavily in favour of the Red Devils to win the first leg, but what do you know, PSG dominated the English side and got themselves a nice lead before heading into the next leg. With a dominant performance behind them, there is now a question looming above our head; Can PSG finally lift the Champions League trophy? Here are my thoughts on the matter.
Too long have we waited for the Champions League to start once more. It seemed like an eternity since the end of the group stages till the 1/8 finals, but you know what? It was well worth the wait. With two games taking place on February 12thand two on February 13th, the most anticipated one was without a doubt the Manchester United vs Paris SG match which was to take place on February 12th.
This match was not only the match between 2 European giants, but it was also the match between the weakened PSG and Manchester United who have gone through some hard times under Mourinho and sudden improvement of their form under newly appointed Ole Gunnar Solskjær. In my eyes and eyes of a lot of people, it was a match that would finally test Manchester United and their supposed “improvement” against a “real” opponent. And what a test it was. PSG stepped into the match as the underdogs and walked away as a dominant side. I was quite surprised at how good PSG was and I’m sure I was not alone. A 0:2 win without 2 key players is an admirable result, but we need to ask ourselves; what does that tell us about PSG chances of winning the Champions League this season?
Well odds-wise, bookmakers reduced the odds on PSG winning the league by a reasonable amount. The odds of PSG to win the Champions League were hovering around 10.00 before the clash against Manchester United, and have now reduced to 6.20. At the moment bookmakers seem to agree PSG is the 3rd most likely team to win the Champions League, behind Manchester City (4.06) and Barcelona (5.93). Bookmakers surely must be right? Well… odds movement so early into the Champions League does not really show the real picture of how it will all end. While it’s true PSG has made it easier for themselves to advance into the next stage of the tournament, they are still far off winning it all. There are still teams like Juventus, Barcelona, Manchester City, Liverpool… who are all more than capable of winning against PSG.
When we talk about PSG, they are in my opinion one of the hardest team to evaluate. Maybe it’s because they have no history of winning the Champions League, maybe it’s because they are playing in Ligue 1, where they are basically the only contenders for the title. The problem with playing in Ligue 1 is that we do not get to see any matches when they get to face a tough opponent, which means we can’t really know how good they actually are. The only way we can evaluate PSG is by looking at their performances in the Champions League, and the win against Manchester United is the only useable data we have thus far.
So, let’s try to answer the question; Can PSG finally lift the Champions League trophy?
I don’t believe so and here is why.
To win the Champions League you need to have the best team in Europe, which basically means the best team in the World. Not only that but the team needs to be 100% ready to face off against all the teams the draw throws at you. A single weak link in the team can make it all come crashing down, which was seen in the last season’s finals between Liverpool and Real Madrid. And what is the weak link in PSG? It’s their defence, more specifically full-back positions. Most of the teams, or better yet teams that are amongst the favourites to win the tournament have got some extremely good strikers in their squads and I am a bit concerned if the PSG defence will be able to deal with them. They can get lucky and win another match but eventually, their defence will fall. Add the injuries and unlikely 100% recovery of Neymar and Cavani to the mix and we have got a recipe of “not-winning the Champions League”. At least not this year.