Paris in search of certainty in the Champions League

PSG striker Ousmane Dembélé, during the match against Nice, September 15, 2023, at the Parc des Princes, in Paris.

Wednesday March 11, 2020, Thomas Tuchel’s Paris Saint-Germain defeated Dortmund (2-0) and qualified for the quarter-finals of the Champions League (C1). This last clash between the two clubs was marked both by a happy outcome for the Parisians, and by an unprecedented health situation. As the Covid-19 epidemic got out of control, the match had to be held in a Parc des Princes emptied of spectators.

Tuesday September 19, the two teams find themselves in a completely different context. In a stadium which this time will be full, PSG and Borussia Dortmund (BVB) will try to get their 2023-2024 Champions League campaign off to a good start with profoundly changed squads. PSG, now coached by Spaniard Luis Enrique, only has three players present in 2020 in its group (Kylian Mbappé, Marquinhos and Keylor Navas).

To avoid finding themselves in a delicate situation early in the season after mixed results in the league, the Parisians would be well advised to win on Tuesday against BVB, as their predecessors had done three years earlier.

“A process that takes time”

Eight points in five games. Since the takeover of the club in 2011 by the sovereign fund Qatar Sports Investments, Paris Saint-Germain has had its worst start to the French championship. We have to go back to the 2010-2011 season to find the capital club with so few points. Antoine Kombouaré’s players had only obtained seven points in five games.

Yet, since the arrival of Luis Enrique at the head of PSG, the face shown by the reigning French champions is convincing. 72% ball possession on average, 17 shots on goal attempted per match… The statistics suggest that the Spanish technician masters his subject.

But the former Barça coach knows it, for this domination to transform into victory, it takes time. “ We haven’t started the season extremely well, but every time I arrive [dans un nouveau club], it’s always like that. There is a lot of information, ideas, concepts that players must imilate, ured the Parisian coach on Monday. I see it as a process that takes time. I know it’s hard to ask for that, the way things work. »

In Ligue 1, the Parisians are better and better imilating their coach’s playing principles, particularly in attack. This allowed them to gain two convincing victories against Lens (3-1, August 26, at Parc des Princes) and Lyon (4-1, September 3, at Parc OL). However, they were unable to avoid defeat (2-3) against Nice on September 15 at the Parc des Princes, during their last meeting to date.

The Champions League is not an “obsession”

But, like every year, it is in the Champions League that PSG will be expected. In recent seasons, and although they reached the Champions League final in 2020, the Parisians have never managed to transpose their supremacy on a national scale onto the European scene (nine French champion titles in eleven years ).

Winner of the Champions League in 2015 with Barcelona, ​​the Paris Saint-Germain coach keeps repeating that to perform well in this competition, you should not focus everything on it. “ When a team, a club is obsessed with something, it’s never a good sign. You have to have hopes, ambition, but obsession never works, in any area of ​​life. »


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A speech that seems to have gone down well with his players as well. “The Champions League is neither an obsession nor a pressure. We want to get to the top but we know the way, we know that it is long, that we have to take it step by step.” confided Marquinhos, captain of PSG, a few minutes after his coach.

Read the portrait: Article reserved for our subscribers Ousmane Dembélé, king of feinting, part-time prodigy and new PSG player

However, in this group F (which also includes AC Milan and Newcastle), perhaps the toughest of the 2023-2024 edition of the Champions Leaguefalse start is strongly discouraged.

At home, against a team still in training at the start of the season (Dortmund is seventh in the German championship after four matches), Kylian Mbappé and his partners have an opportunity to get their European campaign off to a good start. Against BVB, the Parisians should rely on the speed of their offensive elements to try to deceive a rather slow German central defense. As such, Ousmane Dembélé, back against his former club, is eagerly awaited. If the French international from PSG is in for a big night, Luis Enrique has a good chance of obtaining his first points in C1 with Paris Saint-Germain.

Matthew Maine

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