Why PSG Must Make Winning Ligue 1 and Not the Champions League Their Priority
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Opening 2013 with a goalless home draw with Ajaccio was not exactly the start to the New Year that Coach Carlo Ancelotti had in mind for his Paris Saint-Germain side. However, the capital club will now have to demonstrate a heightened appetite for domestic football after they slipped from the summit of Ligue 1 following Lyon's victory over lowly Troyes.
PSG laboured to a disappointing point at home to the Corsicans, the second time that the big-spending outfit have been held by the Islanders this season (both 0-0). What was most alarming, though, more than the result, was the lack of urgency, purpose and direction in the team's play.
Before Christmas, PSG won four games consecutively and did not even concede a goal. Although the result represented the team's fifth consecutive clean sheet in the league, shipping three goals to regional outfit Arras the previous weekend should not have dented the players' confidence. Particularly as some key players had not been involved.
Ancelotti, though, elected to once again change a winning formula against Ajaccio, and the decision didn't pay off. Whilst Lucas Moura's PSG debut was impressive given his quick adaptation to life in Ligue 1, the team struggled to muster up the strength to beat les Ours to drop into second in the table.
Now Ancelotti's side have to take Ligue 1 more seriously before they once again lose out on the title because of carelessly throwing away points in games where the team take unnecessary risks. Of course, everybody wanted to see Lucas Moura's first game in PSG colours against Ajaccio, but was there really any reason to bench Jeremy Menez to accommodate him?
The Italian had a tried and tested formula that was working and has now ignored that, reasoning that the players he has at his disposal should be good enough to beat most teams in Ligue 1. The game is much different on paper to how it pans out on the pitch, though, and disrupting an attacking unit that had just started to click before Christmas was a bad idea. Particularly as it meant persevering with a player who looks as thoroughly disinterested as Javier Pastore.
Ligue 1 is the priority for this PSG side this season, not the Champions League. It is the same for owners Qatar Sports Investments too, even if they are already talking about potential Continental victory. Ancelotti's side are currently in danger of trying to run before they can walk and must realise that these sorts of projects take time to develop into a solid foundation for future success.
That is where Zlatan Ibrahimovic's form maybe has fans and some members of the team fooled. The Swede will not win Ligue 1 or the Champions League on his own. He needs a coherent team around him and that coherence will only come from winning trophies together. Success domestically, therefore, is an absolute priority ahead of the Champions League. Until PSG end their 19-year wait for a Ligue 1 crown, any thoughts of European domination should take a backseat.
This season's Coupe de la Ligue exit and last season's league victory for Montpellier demonstrate that PSG are not infallible, and for all of their star quality, they can still be beaten in domestic competition. Ancelotti now needs to ensure that his current group of players understand the importance of getting that first piece of silverware under their belt as quickly as possible.
Future success will come once the club have established a winning mentality and appetite for success like great clubs such as Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United and Pep Guardiola's Barcelona.
Rome wasn't built in a day, and Paris isn't going to be either it seems. One thing that both the club's fans and hierarchy need to learn is that the most valuable commodity needed for success is patience. That is something that cannot be bought no matter how much money is on the table.
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