European dominance has always been the self-proclaimed aim of Paris-Saint-Germain’s Qatari owners, and they seem to be making a very strong case for other powerhouses of the Champions League to take them seriously this season.
They could well even be able to make go one better than last season and make it to the semi-finals, if not the final if they get a favourable draw.
The French champions already produced the international surprise of the season last year by pushing Barcelona all the way to their limit, forcing them to resort to away goals to go through to the semi-finals, where they suffered a resounding loss against Bayern Munich, sparking claims that it was the end of the tiki-taka era in European football.
That, however, was PSG’s first real season of Champions League football where they were not simply a team to be used as an aperitif for the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona’s prolific strikers and it is very likely that they can improve this time round.
Indeed, they suffered only one defeat in the group stages this season, with that loss coming in the last game after they had already secured qualification thanks to some stunning high scoring victory, such as their 4-0 destruction of Olympiakos or their 5-0 demolition of Anderlecht and they finished the group with an average of 2.6 goals per game, rather impressive for any club, let alone a French one.
Granted, the clubs they faced weren’t of Champion’s League winning caliber, but they were still all clubs with a solid history of decent performances in Europe.
After that easy progression to the knock out stages, PSG are now in the driving seat of their last-16 tie against Bayer Leverkusen after a comfortable first leg 4-0 victory, in which they even had the confidence to bring on recent acquisition Yohan Cabaye who scored a trademark goal from edge of the penalty area.
Off the back of that performance, it is easy to see the Parisian club advancing through the barrages other clubs set against them and their end performance in this season’s Champions League will depend on how they deal will the bigger clubs which they will inevitably come up against in due course.
On top of that it is fair to say that they can only improve internationally, with increased investment in the Ligue 1 from foreign tycoons and growing European experience, as long as they don’t suffer from their blatant disregard for the Financial Fair Play rules which are currently starting to cause some movement from several clubs.
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