Paris Saint-Germain and their money driven quest for Champions League glory
Paris Saint-Germain will play their second UCL semi final against Manchester City in the last days of April. The club has desired for Champions’ League success for a long time. Since take over by Qatar sovereign financial firm in 2011, PSG has created much hullabaloo around themselves in the Champions’ League. But they have not succeeded. They have been at the receiving end of very famous defeats in the competition.
The first that comes to mind is obviously the unforgettable Remontada where PSG was humbled by Barcelona at Camp Nou in 2017. Second obviously will be Marcus Rashford’s penalty at Parc des Prince which saw a young Manchester United side under the ‘interim’ manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer achieving a come-back win to knock-out PSG in 2018-19 UCL. Since then, time has marched on. Barcelona’s hero of Remontada Neymar Jr. has been acquired by Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona has humbly taken on the task of great unimaginable UCL defeats much more regularly. Gian Luigi Buffon has come and gone from the club. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has taken over the reign at Manchester United permanently and finished in third at English Premier League table with them. PSG has in the meantime continued their search for Champions League glory. They bought Neymar Jr. from Barcelona because they wanted to win it.
Neymar Jr. has played a Champions League final with them but the sweet taste of victory in the competition has been out of reach. In this time, PSG has absolutely dominated the French league football and has been a regular champion of the tournament since 2011. This year, their championship reign is threatened as Lillie has gone in front with a very small number of matches remaining. But that doesn’t and shouldn’t matter for the La rouge et le bleu. Champions’ League is there and they surely can win it. Or they surely have the ability to win it.
This pandemic season has been brutal. There has been a drop in the revenue, stadiums have become ghostly without the fans. Football is being played but it is not the ‘same’. PSG too has struggled this year. Last year’s narrow defeat in the Champions’ League final was harrowing as expected. Then the season started without any opportunity for pre-season or a long break. This has been reflected in the injuries. Two talismanic figures at the club, Thiago Silva, much valued till his last days, and Edinson Cavani, though not much valued in his last days but still a fan-favourite and icon, have left the club for Chelsea and Manchester United respectively. But there is no lack of fire-power for PSG. The frontline is invariably led by the simply fabulous Kylian Mbappe who has become such a sort of a player that even the staunchest critic sometimes has to bow down to his talent. The young forward, already a world cup winner, is one of the most talented players on the planet. Mbappe’s speed and ability to run behind any defensive line is complemented by the dribbling and visionary passing football of Neymar Jr. Neymar’s time in PSG has been marred with controversy with the player rumored to be leaving a few summers earlier. But Neymar hasn’t gone and he has proved his worth in the field being the brightest creative spark for the team. These two forwards have talented players like Angel Di Maria, Mauro Icardi and a young and eager Moise Kean as their support who are ready to come in at any match. In the midfield, PSG has the outstanding Verratti, who remained out due to injury in the quarter finals, Julian Draxler, Idrissa Gueye, Ander Herrera, Leandro Paredes, Rafinha and Pablo Sarabia. PSG’s defense has been led by Marquinhos after Thiago Silva’s departure. He was partnered by Kimpembe or Danilo Pereira. In the fullback position there are lots of options with Dagba and Diallo performing well in those positions against Bayern. In the goal, the always reliable Keylor Navas is certain to be present.
This season has seen a change of manager with Mauricio Pochettino coming on as Head Coach in place of Thomas Tuchel in the middle of the season. Incidentally, Tuchel’s Chelsea will face Real Madrid in the other UCL semi-final. Pochettino has been a widely praised manager with his previous stints at clubs like Espanyol de Barcelona, Southampton FC and Tottenham Hotspurs drawing attention to a very balanced squad development. But he has lacked trophies and hasn’t won anything till now. If, and that is a big if when your opposition is Pep Guardiola’s current Manchester City team, PSG wins the Champions League, it will be the first trophy for the Head Coach. But that is only equivalent as for the PSG hierarchy, the Champions’ League trophy will be the first trophy, the trophy that they want, or desire probably. The only trophy that matters. Pochettino’s most famous showing was reaching this competition’s final with something as unpredictable as a Tottenham Hotspurs team by beating Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the semifinal. Pochettino will surely hope such things happen again.
Champions’ League is increasingly being turned into a high octane attacking fest among the best of European teams in the knockout stages. It is natural that a certain amount of superstition, irrationality pervades the fever preceding the joyous moments of the actual game. An oft-told rumour this time around has been that in the past two years the clubs knocking out FC Barcelona have gone on to win the UCL. Liverpool did so and won in 2018-19. Bayern won it 2019-20. This logic, or illogic, projects PSG as the inevitable champion of this year. Alas! Football matches aren’t played on such illogics. But it is never a doubt that PSG has enough quality to get a favourable result and complete their Champions’ League quest this time around.
Bonus Content: Best Live Stream Mediums
If watching the Champions League quest of PSG is in your mind, you need to get to the end of the live-stream details of the UCL semis. Let’s get going!
- The fans in the UK have BT Sports as their exclusive live-stream options for the UEFA Champions League semis. If you are a prior subscriber of the BT TV, BT Broadband, Sky, TalkTalk TV or Virgin Media, you can simply pay an extra 10 GBP per month subscription charge and start live-streaming the most exciting parts of the UCL. Alternatively, you can avail of the BT Sports monthly pass at 25 GBP to live-stream all the action from the semis.
- Canadians can live-stream the greatest of UCL action by availing a monthly subscription of DAZN at just 20 CAD or an annual subscription worth 150 CAD.
- The fans stationed in the US can live-stream the UCL semis featuring the star-studded PSG via a CBS All Access subscription priced at 9.99 USD (commercial-free) or 5.99 USD (with commercials) monthly. You can also cut the cord and grab a Hulu+Live TV subscription at just 59.99 USD per month with an exciting 7-day free trial.
- Optus Sport is the best place to live-stream the semis from the UCL in Australia. The 14.99 AUD monthly plan is worth a deal!
- In India, the fans can live-stream the UCL semis featuring PSG via the SONY TEN Network and the Sony LIV OTT live-streaming app.
- If you are from a country that is encountering a geo-block, you can solve that by using the services of VPNs like NordVPN, CyberGhost and ExpressVPN.
- Reddit provides you a comprehensive option of live-streaming the best of UCL semis action. You need to sign up, login with your credentials, find the relevant subreddit and click on the link that has not been flagged by the official broadcasters. Thus you can enjoy the live-stream free of cost!