Feature

PSG's revolution set to take European football by storm

Is the fabled city of Paris, which was the centre of the French revolution two centuries ago, about to revolutionise European football and become the new capital of the continental club game?

Neymar Mbappe

Neymar (R) and Kylian Mbappe (L) are expected to light up PSG Source: Getty Images

Ambitious French side Paris Saint-Germain have assembled a $700 million attack in their boldest and most spectacular challenge for the one trophy they have never won: the UEFA Champions League.

The club has dominated French football since it was born out of the capital's Latin Quarter in 1970 but it has yet to inscribe its name on Europe's most coveted trophy.

There were a few near misses and some colossal cock-ups along the way but continental success always eluded the red and blues.

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The club has never been short of financial resources - particularly when broadcaster Canal Plus came on board - yet when one of the world's richest men, Omani-born Qatari Nasser Al-Khalaif, took over the club via Qatar Sports Investments in 2011 a bottomless pit of riches found its way to the French capital.



Even before the QSI takeover French football's glamour club was able to draw some of the world's finest talents to the Parc des Princes such as Rai, Leonardo, David Ginola, George Weah and Ronaldinho. Thiago Silva, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani would arrive later.

But the nearest PSG came to a Champions League final was way back in 1994-1995 when they reached the semi-finals before they ran into holders AC Milan and lost 3-0 on aggregate.

PSG appeared to be on the brink of something special last season after they thrashed Barcelona 4-0 in the first leg of the round of 16.

But a combination of tactical naiveté on their part and dubious refereeing enabled Barca to win 6-1 and overturn the first-leg deficit.

'Les Parisiens' would have been deeply wounded by that debilitating defeat but the sixth richest club in the world sought to get back on its feet by throwing even more money at the team.

One man who played a key role in Barca's extraordinary revival at the Camp Nou was Brazilian striker Neymar, who made it all happen with a spellbinding individual and team performance.

Neymar is now on PSG's books after the Parisian club paid a world record transfer fee of an equivalent of $332 million for his sought-after services.

The Brazilian superstar was joined a few weeks later by one of France's brightest prospects: striker Kylian Mbappe, who left Monaco in a loan deal for one year and will cost the club $272 million when the transfer becomes permanent next season.

And when you add the acquisition of Brazilian fullback Dani Alves from Juventus to the equation, you would have to say that if coach Unai Emery's side click as well and as quickly as expected and his stars stay injury free, PSG will take some beating this season.

Champions League holders Real Madrid are clearly Europe's finest team at the moment and they underlined their supremacy by taking Barcelona to the cleaners in the Spanish Super Cup, winning both legs rather comfortably.

But if PSG fulfil the massive expectations being placed on them by their fans and the media, Europe might have its first new champion since Chelsea overcame Bayern Munich on penalties in 2012.
The last and only time a Ligue 1 side won the competition was in 1993 when Olympique Marseille defeated Milan 1-0.

Glasgow Celtic and their Australian star Tom Rogic will get a close look at PSG's array of stars when they entertain them on match day one of this season's Champions League [LIVE and FREE, Wednesday (AEST) on SBS] at Parkhead, the ground the Scottish champions call Paradise.

Celtic, PSG, Anderlecht and Bayern comprise a highly interesting Group B.

PSG will be keen to show off their new talents at one of Europe's most intimidating venues that has witnessed the fall of several great teams in the past.

However, all the signs are there that this time PSG are well equipped to give the Champions League a real shake.

They will have learnt from the Camp Nou disaster and they now have the added thrust of Neymar, whose combinations with Cavani - a $92 million buy four years ago - and Mbappe should provide some of the best highlights of the European season.

PSG's attacking force is now the most expensive in the world and all three stars got on the scoresheet in an away 5-1 win over 10-man Metz at the weekend.

French legend Thierry Henry has described PSG's attack as "scary".

And with injured Angel Di Maria yet to come back into the side, winger Julian Draxler must be feeling nervous about his position at the club.

That's how strong PSG are in the front third.

No doubt, all eyes will be on the City of Enlightenment this season as its famous football club attempts to conquer the highest European peak.


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5 min read
Published 11 September 2017 at 10:37am
By Philip Micallef