Are PSG now favourites to lift the Champions League?
If you didn’t realise it before, PSG’s thrashing of Bayern Munich emphatically showed that they are a serious football team. Their composure, clinical nature and blinding counter attacking play makes it hard to look past them as the new yardstick for Europe’s big boys to come and match, writes Luke Barry.
Sometimes you just have to sit back and watch in awe. Paris Saint-Germain were in cruise control as they swept Bayern Munich aside 3-0 in the UEFA Champions League, except that cruise control had been set at 90 mph.
PSG were relentless on the night and truth be told they have been all season. Two Champions League matches. Eight goals scored. None conceded. Worrying statistics for the heavyweight clubs around Europe.
It is no secret that the high money acquisitions of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe were about one thing and one thing only. The Parisians value domestic success, particularly after losing out to Monaco in the French Ligue 1 last term, but the Qatari backed team have been eyeing up the biggest European club competition for a long time now. They finally now look like a team capable of knocking Real Madrid off that perch.
The first goal for PSG came quickly on the night, with a teasing ball into the area from Neymar finding compatriot Dani Alves, who with acres of space, dispatched the ball in the back of the net with just two minutes on the clock.
From there, it was Bayern who responded best, with chances falling to the Germans in PSG’s box, mostly from crosses courtesy of full backs Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba.
However PSG’s strongest asset as a team is their blistering and devastating pace on the counter. In the 31st minute, the German champions fell victim. Strong build up play found Mbappe on the right wing who held the ball up, squared the ball into the path of Edinson Cavani who gratefully rifled the ball home to give PSG a 2-0 lead they would hold until half time.
Former PSG youth player Kingsley Coman came on to replace James Rodriguez for Bayern Munich and made a positive difference, but it would be PSG, not Bayern, to score next.
Great close control and a superb jinking run from Mbappe past and round Alaba saw the ball creep into the box and into the path of Neymar, who grabbed it from the feet of the Bayern defence to smash home the third and match-killing goal for PSG. In truth, the Parisians probably could have had four or five such was their quality.
A 3-0 win against Bayern Munich is a result that is startling enough, but it was the manner in which PSG achieved it that proves they must now be considered one of the favourites to win the 2017/18 Champions League title.
Bayern Munich aren’t having the best domestic season, currently lying third in the Bundesliga. The absence of club captain Manuel Neuer between the sticks isn’t helping, but on the night the Bavarians actually played quite well.
After the opening goal, it was all Bayern Munich. Solid in possession and positive going forward, they were knocking on the door. Their only mistake was lack of service to Robert Lewandowski, who didn’t see enough of the ball throughout the 90 minutes. PSG’s all Brazilian centre back partnership of Thiago Silva and Marquinhos were a massive factor in that.
It was hard to tell just how good PSG were after their 5-0 win at Celtic Park on matchday one. They were dominant and played some exquisite football but were up against a side who aren’t fancied as a top European proposition. Their dismissal of Bayern Munich now serves as a serious warning to the trophy-seekers.
All over the park though the Parisians looked solid, with plenty of quality on the bench with the likes of Angel Di Maria and Julian Draxler coming on in the latter stages.
It would be naive to call a winner of this prestigious competition as early as September, but PSG’s composure, clinical nature and blinding counter attacking play makes it hard to look past them the a new yardstick for the big boys to come and match.