When they took over Paris Saint-Germain in 2011, QSI’s Qataris weren’t afraid to announce publicly that they were giving themselves between four and five years to see their new toy win the prestigious Champions League. It’s been almost 11 years since PSG changed their dimension, but today in Europe the club’s capital is mostly talked about because of its many continental disappointments rather than because of the titles. Last night’s fiasco in Madrid has indeed revived the demons of European nightmares among the supporters of Ile-de-France. Because Paris has gone crescendo there in disaster scenarios.
The first real disappointment came in the quarter-finals of the return leg against Chelsea in the 2013/2014 season. Paris won 3-1 in the first leg at the Parc des Princes, thanks in particular to a legendary third goal by Javier Pastore at the end of the match. On the return, the Parisians collapsed mentally and conceded in the 87th minute to a furious goal by Demba Ba. 2-0, end of run. Two years later (2015/2016), petrodollar duel against Manchester City. PSG clinging to the park (2-2) arriving at the Etihad with his famous 3-5-2 chosen at the last minute by Laurent Blanc. A tactical shipwreck to which was added a disastrous recovery of Serge Aurier, both out and back, after the periscope affair. This defeat of the Qataris to the Emirati neighbor will put Laurent Blanc at the end of the season, just a few months after extending it to 2018.
A blood flow that didn’t really pay off. A year later, PSG experienced what today is still the greatest humiliation in its history, or even the cup with the big ears. Now coached by Unai Emery, the Rouge-et-Bleu defeated FC Barcelona by Messi and Neymar at the Parc (4-0) in the first round of the 16th leg. The road to the quarter-finals then opened wide, never before in the history of the competition had a team overcome such a handicap in the return leg. It was without counting on a Neymar on fire and a very controversial Deniz Aytekin. 6-1, as Paris led 3-1 in the 88th minute. Never seen. Scarred by this surreal elimination, the Parisians have not learned the lessons.
5 fiascos in 11 years
The club has meanwhile welcomed Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, but that does not prevent it from experiencing a humiliation again two years later. PSG were released in the round of 16 two years in a row and appear to have recovered by winning 2-0 at Old Trafford, against Manchester United. Trained by Thomas Tuchel, the inhabitants of Ile-de-France finally seem armed to break this glass ceiling. Failed again. Came the round of 16 games back to the park with a second team (De Gea, Young, Bailly, Smalling, Lindelof, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, Pereira, Rashford, Lukaku. Romero, Dalot, Rojo, Garner, Gomes, Chonget Greenwood on the bench), Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took advantage of cracks from Gianluigi Buffon, Thilo Kehrer and a penalty caused at the end of the game by Presnel Kimpembe to win 3-1. Even the Red Devils did not expect to continue.
The image of an injured and incredulous Neymar watching his teammates drown from the sidelines has since become a widespread meme on social media. An early elimination that ended with a rocky end to the season: 4 defeats and 3 draws in the last 10 games, including a loss in the Coupe de France final against Stade Rennais as Paris led 2-0. Three years after this 2018/2019 season, which Tuchel will long remember, PSG did it again last night in Madrid. All it took was a goal from Karim Benzema to see Mauricio Pochettino’s tire collapse when they were still virtually qualified at the time. It remains to know the consequences of this new European fiasco. In 2017, Paris was able to bounce back with the incredible feat of recruiting Neymar and Mbappé. What will the Qataris’ tactics be this time?