PSG, which launches its Champions League season in Belgium this Wednesday against Club Bruges, enters the competition in a costume of undisputed favorite. A very heavy adornment, which he is not used to wearing: usually considered as a pursuit of much more respected and better armed institutions, the club of the capital has this season, with the impressive armada that it has constituted, the absolute ban on messing up.
This is a question that has been ringing in the ears of PSG leaders, players and staff since this summer, but more particularly since the arrival in the capital of Lionel Messi. “Suddenly, the Champions League is for this year, right? ” Each time, this tone of evidence in the question. And each time, as an automatic response, the same ambition carefully wrapped in caution: yes, Paris has the ambition to win the C1, as is the case since the arrival of the Qataris at the head of the club and so much more this year; but Paris also knows that the cup with the big ears is a capricious lover who does not give herself to the first comer, and that to conquer it is a battle which sometimes escapes the laws of logic. “Logically”, with a drastically reinforced workforce in the offseason and a Messi-Neymar-Mbappé attack that he should show for the very first time this Wednesday, against Bruges, PSG has enough to roll in this Champions League without too much sweat, as he could sometimes trample in Ligue 1. But very often, it is not the one who made a logical winner at the start of the season who comes out with the gold medal around his neck.
The new king of the jungle
The fact that we are already talking so intensely about the final victory on the eve of the first C1 match of the PSG season proves a little more the expectations that this team arouses. For the first time, really, since the takeover of the club by its rich owners, Paris is a team that freaks out. Where the credibility of the Ile-de-France club had already skyrocketed after the summer of 2017 and the purchases of Neymar and Mbappé, but came up against the glass ceiling constituted by the still glaring weaknesses in its workforce, the summer transfer window has definitely installed Paris in the armchair as lonely as it is uncomfortable as a team to be beaten down. Where the usual favorites of the stage have either weakened (Real Madrid, FC Barcelona) or have not particularly strengthened their workforce (Manchester City, Juventus, Bayern), Paris presents itself in this new edition of the Champions League with a metamorphosed squad, which each new summer addition has pulled a little more to the top of. A dream team whose only objective, let’s not be fooled, is to bring this damn Champions League to Qatar as soon as possible. A Champions League which, in the eyes of many across Europe, almost already belongs to it de facto.
An uncomfortable costume no matter what
The Champions League favorite costume is one that Paris has dreamed of for years and which, now that he’s finally donned it, seems to still fit him big. Like a borrowed wedding suit, in which you don’t really feel at home, which has been worn by a lot more beefy before and in which you still have to grow up to feel really comfortable before going to kiss your bride. But still with this feeling that, even at the right size, it will still continue to scratch a little. If PSG wins the Champions League, everyone will say that’s normal, because they have the best team in the world on paper and their five-star transfer window has distorted all competition. If it fails, we will also say that it is normal, because money does not buy the titles, an illusion with which we very much like to rock despite the evidence that it is completely false. But until now, this money belonged to clubs that were not part of this hated category of “new rich”. In recent seasons, with this label flanked on the neck, it is in an outsider position that Paris had managed to climb in the final, then in the semi-finals. This year, he has an obligation to win, even before we have really seen whether the cluster of stars in his workforce was able to take shape. “Everyone makes us the favorites, and when we have a squad like ours, of course we are favorites, notes Georginio Wijnaldum in a newspaper interview The team, this Tuesday. When you look at the winners, it’s not always the team with the best individualities that wins. You have to play as a team. When we won it with Liverpool (in 2019), we faced PSG and Barça, and they really had great teams. We have incredible players, but we have to become an incredible team. ” First session of team building : a little escape game in Belgium.
By Alexandre Aflalo