PSG head to Barcelona for the second leg of their Champions League tie with an opportunity to move on to the last four. While it will be difficult to get the result needed to advance, PSG gave themselves a chance with a last-gasp tie in Paris.
It is a big deal for most any team to eliminate Barcelona from any competition, but for PSG, the effect may extend beyond the club level. A win for PSG would constitute a victory on some levels for Ligue 1 as well.
If PSG are able to move past Barcelona, some would view it as a result of PSG's financial backing. Viewing it from this perspective is only scratching the surface of a result that has root cause that goes much deeper.
There is no doubt that the money PSG has dished out to bring in players is a big part of their current success, but in a player comparison across Barcelona and PSG's starting 11, there are only two or three positions where PSG has an advantage.
The point is even though PSG has spent a lot of money the last two years, they are still early in the build up and do not possess as complete a team as Barcelona.
In order to be in position to challenge Barcelona, PSG has had to be battle hardened. This has occurred in their weekly matches in Ligue 1.
Ligue 1 is continually viewed as a secondary league. Great young talent resides there, but for the most part, Ligue 1 has been a feeder league providing talent to the top leagues.
A deep run by PSG will help open people's eyes to the level of competition in Ligue 1. If PSG can overcome Barcelona in a two-leg setup, what does that say about the quality of a team like Saint-Etienne?
Saint-Etienne is 2-0-1 in three matches against PSG this year. This is not saying ASSE is on the level of or better than Barcelona, but it shows that Ligue 1 has a depth of quality sides. Those who do not follow what is happening in France are not aware of this.
A PSG victory would ignite some curiosity about Ligue 1. Even if curious fans only tune in to see what is happening in Paris, they will be exposed to sides like Lyon, Lille and others.
Naysayers will be quick to point out Lyon's trip to the semifinals a few years back did not have this effect, so why would PSG be different? The answer is simple—Lyon eliminated fellow French club Bordeaux to make the last four, not a team the caliber of Barcelona. Lyon also did not have near the star power or story lines that PSG possess.
With star power in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Beckham and Thiago Silva, PSG have placed themselves in the spotlight. This is a golden opportunity for some of that light to shine on Ligue 1 as well.
This extra attention for Ligue 1 is what it needs. The on-the-field product is much better than often given credit for. Exposing this to soccer fans worldwide would generate more interest. More interest leads to increased revenue and other opportunities.
Those opportunities could take the form in keeping or obtaining more high-level players. It may take the form in television contracts or other investments. These opportunities could help to build the foundation of a stronger league.
A PSG advancement in the Champions League will continue to open the Ligue 1 door to the world. PSG success means everything to the club, but it means a great deal to Ligue 1 as well.
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