After reaching the final of the Champions League in August, much is expected of Paris Saint-Germain this season.
The goal remains the European Cup, with domestic dominance expected to come as standard. In this unique season, in which clubs are expected to play fixtures at a tempo modern football has never seen, that promises to be a tall order.
PSG: The season so far
The aftermath of the Champions League run was a surprisingly rocky one for Les Parisiens.
Cracks began to increase in the relationship between head coach Thomas Tuchel and sporting director Leonardo over the club’s transfer policy. Mauro Icardi was the big signing, though in reality he was simply a loan deal made permanent, while there was little other meaningful movement in August.
PSG summer moves in
PSG summer moves out
|Loic Mbe Soh
Indeed, PSG’s squad had been significantly depleted in numbers from the previous campaign as Thomas Meunier, Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani and Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting all departed on free transfers. Not until the beginning of October, with the transfer deadline looming, did Leonardo rush through deals for Moise Kean, Rafinha and Danilo Pereira
It was with this backdrop that PSG started their season, which made it all the more frustrating that several players contracted coronavirus, potentially on a brief holiday to Ibiza.
A 1-0 loss to Lens was followed up by a home defeat to Marseille by a similar scoreline. That second game had major ramifications, with Neymar and Angel Di Maria both dismissed.
PSG’s rotation of absent regulars has continued to this point and yet they have managed to pick themselves up in Ligue 1, winning eight straight largely thanks to Kylian Mbappe. The striker might not have looked at his absolute sharpest this season, but he has been producing formidable numbers offensively, with seven goals and seven assists from his eight matches in all competitions.
If the situation has been recovered in Ligue 1, work still must be done in Europe, where defeats to RB Leipzig and Manchester United have Tuchel’s men on a knife edge.
Between this and the ongoing rift between the coach and his bosses, there is an atmosphere of tension around Parc des Princes.
PSG: Grade C
PSG are top in Ligue 1 – but this is not the yardstick by which they should judge themselves. Their resources are far in excess of any of their rivals, and with that in mind they should dominate the league.
It is Europe by which Tuchel and his team will be judged, and their Champions League campaign to date has been little more than a shambles, with one unconvincing win against Istanbul Basaksehir accounting for the three points they have claimed.
All is not lost, however, and there is a sense that the momentum could shift quickly in a campaign such as this. PSG, though, have given themselves precious little room for error.