Nasser Al-Khelaifi’s Paris Saint-German project has failed to produce on the European stage for another season.
The French club have fallen at the last 16 stage for the third year in a row after letting their first-leg lead slip against Manchester United. Huge Qatari investment has seen the club dominate domestically with five league titles in the last six years, as well as 15 other trophies. However, despite the success in their own country PSG haven’t come close to lifting their main objective, the Champions League.
Here, we take a look at eight reasons behind their continental failure.
Marquinhos in midfield
Despite all this spending, Thomas Tuchel found himself having to use Marquinhos in a central midfield role alongside Marco Verratti.The German manager asked for two out of Idrissa Gueye, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Thiago Mendes and Leandro Paredes to be signed, with only the latter arriving in January.Marquinhos has coped well with his new position, but during matches against Liverpool and Manchester United his lack of experience in the role has been evident.
Back luck with injuries
In the last two seasons, PSG have been fairly unfortunate with injuries to their most important players.Record signing Neymar spent large parts of the last campaign on the sidelines, with history repeating itself this season as well.Both Neymar and Edinson Cavani were missing in the first leg of the Manchester United tie, with the Uruguayan only returning to play the closing stages of the return leg.Manchester United, though, were just as unlucky with injuries of their own, visiting the Parc de Princes without 10 of their senior players.
Inability to close out results
PSG were the first team in history to have given up a four-goal lead in the first leg when they were beaten 6-1 by Barcelona at the Camp Nou in 2017.Now they’ve become the first team in history to give up a two-goal advantage going into the second leg at home by losing 3-1 against the Red Devils.This failure to secure results and defend a lead is a trait the French champions will have to leave behind if they’re going to win Europe’s biggest prize.
Lack of a clear first-choice goalkeeper
Salvatore Sirigu, Kevin Trapp, Alphonse Areola and Gianluigi Buffon have all tried and failed to become the reliable hands between the sticks for PSG.Tuchel still hasn’t made up his mind when it comes to his first-choice goalkeeper, with Areola and Buffon rotating often this season.Buffon’s mistake allowed Romelu Lukaku to get Manchester United’s second goal and the Italian ended up costing his side.
Lack of competition in France
PSG’s easy ride in domestic competition acts as a disadvantage when it comes to competing in Europe.Before their defeat to Guingamp in the Coupe de la Ligue this season, PSG had won three consecutive titles in both the Coupe de France and Coupe de la Ligue.In Ligue 1, they are currently 17 points ahead of second-place Lille with 11 games to go.
As it often is with large amounts of spending, most of the money is spent on players in attacking departments rather than in defence.Both Tuchel and his predecessor Unai Emery have had problems fitting Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Cavani and Angel Di Maria into one team.The need to play Marquinhos in midfield and youngster Thilo Kehrer in defence has proved that more focus should be put on those behind the forward positions in the transfer market.
No backup for Cavani
With Cavani out injured, Mbappe was forced to occupy a central position in PSG’s attack due to the lack of a No.9 like-for-like replacement.Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting is the only player that is used to playing as a striker, but the summer signing from Stoke didn’t play at all against Manchester United.
The Adrien Rabiot situation
The French midfielder has been left out of Tuchel’s plans for the rest of the season having declared his intention to leave the club at the end of the season.Rabiot’s refusal to sign a new contract has seen him relegated to the train with the reserve teams and, having not been picked up by another club in January, this problem will remain until the summer.