5 Reasons Why Paris Saint-Germain Will Win the Champions League This Season
It might be a new season for French champions Paris Saint-Germain, but their ambitions remain unchanged. Although focused on winning a third consecutive Ligue 1 title, the capital club have bigger fish to fry, and progress in the UEFA Champions League is an absolute priority this campaign.
For the past two terms, PSG have been European quarter-finalists twice. However, they arguably should not have let a potential place in last season’s semi-final slip against Chelsea, throwing away a 3-1 first-leg lead and going out—once again—on away goals.
Although it was not a step backwards, it was also not really progress and les Parisiens’ coach Laurent Blanc is expected to do better this year after showing some tactical naivety over the two legs against Chelsea. Having strengthened once again this summer—albeit not as thoroughly as they might have liked so far—PSG are equipped to once again challenge for continental football’s top prize.
Here are five reasons why they will be successful this season.
5. Stronger Squad
PSG are stronger this season than they were last. Despite allowing the likes of Alex, Christophe Jallet and Jeremy Menez leave, Blanc has replaced them with David Luiz, Serge Aurier and Jean-Christophe Bahebeck. The former offers as much—if not more—in terms of ability than his predecessor, while the last two offer infinitely greater potential than theirs.
There is more depth to the squad because of these additions, and PSG’s collective strength is greater. There are still one or two questions over the relative lack of depth in central defence, but otherwise the French capital outfit possess a well-stocked squad.
Last season, PSG were being talked about as potential Champions League winners. In the first leg of their quarter-final clash with Chelsea, they proved that they can have the big performances necessary at this level. This time around, with a stronger group than before, the French giants will go at least one step further.
4. Extra Experience
More important than the improved overall ability within the squad is the greater level of experience that they now possess. In addition to the likes of 2012 Champions League winner Luiz arriving, PSG’s players are wiser following their experience in last season’s quarter-final encounter with Chelsea.
Learning their lessons from last campaign’s exit is crucial for les Parisiens. They need to realise that they must perform efficiently over both legs in order to get the job done. One good performance is not enough, and the PSG players will be well aware of that going into this term’s competition.
With more silverware under their belts following last season’s Ligue 1 and Coupe de la Ligue titles, Blanc’s men have whetted their appetites ahead of a European assault.
3. Laurent Blanc
Perhaps even more crucial to PSG’s chances of success than the players heeding the lessons from last season is Blanc also learning his own.
The Frenchman enjoyed a fantastic debut season as coach of the capital club, but there is no denying that he got out-thought by opposite number Jose Mourinho in the quarter-final second leg, and he will need to show that he has developed greater tactical flexibility.
When PSG were in need of a Plan B, le President was unable to give it to them, as he was too settled on the largely successful 4-3-3 formation.
That must change this season if PSG are to go past the quarter-finals and possibly all the way to the final.
2. Challenging Group
Getting to at least the Champions League semi-final is one of PSG’s minimum goals this season and, along with the league, this will be their main focus for the campaign.
When it comes to European nights, the French champions will be ready and will likely save their best performances for those games. A challenging group might make things more difficult, but les Parisiens are in need of that extra test.
For the past two editions, PSG have benefited from favourable group-stage draws, and the chances of doing the same this year are slim. Being drawn against an out-of-form Bayer Leverkusen immediately after the group stages last time out did Blanc’s men no favours, so a challenging group this time will see the capital club at their best far before the latter stages.
1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic
One of the main factors behind last season’s disappointing quarter-final collapse was the injury suffered by main man Zlatan Ibrahimovic during the first leg of their clash with Chelsea.
Although the 32-year-old insists that he is not obsessed with winning the Champions League, according to his recent interview with ESPN FC’s Julien Laurens, the PSG No. 10 does believe that the team has the quality to win the title this season. The super Swede’s form will be key to the capital club’s hopes of going all the way.
Zlatan has started the season with a bang, suggesting that he could still lead PSG all the way, but he will need his teammates to also raise their game and help him steer the side towards the Olympiastadion in Berlin.