There was a sense of bemusement in the stands, and on the touchline, about PSG’s lacklustre performance at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night.
PSG fans were seen shrugging their shoulders and debating amongst themselves as the final whistle drew nearer. Laurent Blanc stood with arms folded on many occasions, surely wondering what more he could do to inspire this team of superstars to European glory.
When the final whistle blew, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who will surely be moving on in the summer, was seen heading straight for the tunnel with a face like thunder.
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PSG limped out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage for the fourth consecutive season. They have already secured a fourth Ligue 1 trophy in as many seasons and sit a staggering 28 points clear at the top.
But in a league in which there is very little competition, it is the Champions League that remains the Holy Grail for the Qatar Sports Investment owned club.
Many expected PSG to dominate City’s depleted defence last night, but, in truth, they offered very little going forwards.
For a club that ended the game with the attacking talents of: Ibrahimovic, Angel di Maria, Javier Pastore, Lucas Moura and Edinson Cavani, PSG only truly tested City goalkeeper Joe Hart on two occasions.
PSG were missing two key midfield players, Marco Verratti and Blaise Matuidi, and lost Thiago Motta to injury towards the end of the first-half, but these absentees do not excuse the toothless display from the expensively assembled Parisian side.
Manchester City should not be overlooked amongst the criticism of PSG. Manuel Pellegrini organised his team superbly, leaving Yaya Toure on the bench and instead using Fernando and Fernandinho to effectively shield the vulnerable back four.
Kevin de Bruyne’s superbly taken goal demonstrates how good a player he is after the Belgian attacker had previously struggled to get into the game, while the steadfast performance of Hart is something that comes as no surprise nowadays from the undisputed England number one.
PSG are, once again, at a crossroads heading into the summer. Laurent Blanc could well be out of a job after his persistent failure in Europe and, with Manchester United dithering over who will be in charge next season, Jose Mourinho may well be considered as a superstar appointment.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani are among the key players who have been linked with moves away from the club, and there are areas of the team that needs to be improved.
Tuesday night was the battle of the super-rich clubs and it was the club who have bought more wisely in the transfer market who will be in the draw for the semi-finals.
PSG do suffer in a national league that has failed to produce any rival for the Ligue 1 crown this season, but they should look to Bayern Munich as a paradigm to follow if they are to improve in Europe.
Bayern, like PSG, don’t face much competition in their national league, yet they are able to consistently perform in Europe and, barring a collapse, will be in the Champions League semi-final for the fourth consecutive season (having been runners-up in 2012 and winners
The German club balance expensive signings with high-quality youth products and PSG would do well to follow their lead.
Tuesday night demonstrated that PSG lack cohesion and vision, and another summer of excess spending will not guarantee European success for the club. Instead, PSG should learn lessons from clubs like Bayern who have a strong identity, a productive youth system and an enormous amount of money to spend.
PSG must stop looking at the quickest route to the top and should take a long-term approach, which includes embracing youth products, to establish themselves as a dominant European force for years to come.
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