Paris Saint-Germain officially kicked off the 2019-20 season with a 2-1 win over Stade Rennais in the Trophée des Champions and now, all eyes turn towards the upcoming Ligue 1 campaign and the multiple competitions they will be participating in. There’s been a lot of change in the French capital, both on and off the pitch, and supporters around the world are eagerly awaiting to see how the 49th edition of PSG will come together.
To help set expectations for the season, several PSG Talk contributors shared their thoughts on everything from new players to must-watch fixtures.
What are your hopes for the new season?
Terry (@El_Philosofoot): I hope that we can dominate the national competitions again. Ligue 1, Coupe de France, and Coupe de la Ligue trophies should all come home this season. I also hope that we can get out of the Champions League with our chins up for a change. By that, I mean that we give it our all and don’t have any regrets, even if we get eliminated early again. Although, my expectations are quite a bit different than my hopes.
Zach Donabedian (@papaDON_): In terms of results, I hope for the club to regain the Ligue 1 title, domestic competitions they were knocked out of last year (Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue), and make it at least to the quarter-finals of the Champions League. I’d like for the club to instill in its players a sense of direction, focus, and drive.
James Teague (@Teague13): My hopes are high but realistic. I want to see us get out of the Round of 16 of the Champions League. With the new additions to the squad and some much-needed depth in the midfield, that should not be too tall of a task. I would also like to see some of this media drama die down over the course of the season. Let’s focus on football.
Jonathan Beristain (@Jon_Beristain): I want to see a team that doesn’t give up and shows mental strength. Over the past couple of years in the Champion’s League, we have taken a big lead and all we had to do in the return leg was to maintain a draw to move on. I want to see us overcome adversity and show the big teams we need to be feared. I would also like to see us win the domestic treble again so we can keep moving forward with our project.
Cose Espinosa (@CoseEspinosa): I’d wish we could become a more consistent club, not necessarily in terms of results but in terms of general play. It almost seems as if we can only win when the pressure is on and there is not any other way out. For example, when we beat Liverpool FC to save our Champions League dreams or when we took a 2-0 lead from Manchester United when it seemed Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s men were tipped to dominate. However, every time that it seems like PSG has everything they need to win an important victory, mental strength disappears and we end up digging our own grave (the day that shall not be named and MU’s 3-1 at the Parc des Princes). It’s impossible to win every match, but can we become less predictable?
Ed (@PSGTalk): I want to see PSG play beautiful football that is the envy of clubs around the world. They have the players and manager capable of putting together highlight-reel goals while also shutting down opponents on defense. My hope is that the players represent the badge with pride and give this season everything they’ve got. If they do, the club can accomplish great things this season.
What do you make of the new additions to the squad?
Terry: I am skeptical of our summer signings so far. Abdou Diallo, Pablo Sarabia, Ander Herrera, and Idrissa Gueye all seem like wild bets, although they were not too costly for the club. We didn’t get into any top players, but maybe these guys will give everything they’ve got for the team on the pitch and will perform when necessary. I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and will wait to see what they can bring to our team. Mitchel Bakker, and Marcin Bulka are not recruits that will bring something to the team this season in my eyes.
Zach: I have enjoyed the breath of fresh air Leanardo has brought to the sporting director position. It seems he is valuing intangible qualities in the new signings like intensity and professionalism. That is not to say the tangible qualities are lacking. Herrera will provide a stabilizing veteran presence in the midfield. Sarabia can help with creative solutions in the midfield and wings like those provided by Angel Di Maria. Gueye can be the much-needed workhorse our midfield has been lacking. Diallo is an interesting young addition to a backline filled with potential.
James: Don’t look now but we may have a real midfield. We finally have some depth. They aren’t big-name guys but I think this is what we need. They provide a solid foundation to help provide a good rotation and survive another injury bug if that were to happen. Knock on wood.
Jonathan: I think this was a good start. The return of Leonardo has brought an end to the disappointment of almost getting a player. We were able to make some good signings in keys areas. I especially like Sarabia and he looked great in his first competitive match with PSG. I am excited to see Gueye play and solidify that defense.
Cose: I believe these additions are exactly the type of players that PSG has been lacking in recent seasons and because of that, they will get the chance to succeed and stand out. My two favorite arrivals are probably Herrera and Gueye. Despite the undeniable talent possessed by the likes of Diallo or Sarabia, the aforementioned duo play exactly in the problem area for Les Parisiens during the last three years at least. I believe this means the players will be able to show the coach and the fans, the type of performances in the midfield that they’ve been waiting for.
Ed: I absolutely love the new signings. From a business point of view, they targeted quality players for a reasonable price. The mix of youth and experience adds valuable depth to the squad and I can see players like Herrera and Sarabia making a big impact right away.
Who will be the main men (top scorer, top assists)?
Terry: Kylian Mbappé without a doubt. He made a statement at the end-of-season award ceremony in May that he wants more responsibilities, and I believe he will naturally take them on without them even being given to him. I’d like to see him be decisive in a Champions League do-or-die bout.
Zach: I expect Mbappé to continue his rapid growth and be the club’s leading scorer. I think there will be many players providing assists, and this will be hard to predict given Neymar Jr.’s current situation with the club. However, I still believe Neymar will lead the club in assists this coming season.
James: I think Mbappé will be our top scorer. This man is on a mission to be great and I think he has the tools and the will to take it to another level this season. I’m going to tap Marco Verratti as the man with the most assists this year. He has some help around him finally and he shouldn’t be asked to do too much this year. He should focus on being the maestro we know him to be. As a shoutout to the defense, Marquinhos, this is his season to be an anchor and start leading the backline for many seasons to come.
Jonathan: Top scorer – Mbappé has already hit the net once this year and I believe he will be our top scorer by the end of the season. I see him scoring more than he did last year. Top assists – I hope to see Julian Draxler top this list. He hasn’t lived up to the expectations but I hope to see him shine this year.
Cose: Despite several new arrivals, it’s clear that PSG’s main players remain the same from the previous seasons. We will be hoping to watch Verratti dominate the middle throughout the season and Marquinhos to demonstrate how versatile and positive his play can be. However, with an aging star in Edison Cavani, the famous duo of Neymar and Mbappé will have to step up. Before last December, Neymar was our player of the season and, if he stays and plays, I’ll predict he will be player of the season.
Ed: It’s hard to go against Mbappé as the top scorer. He’s arguably the most lethal attacking player in Europe and you’d be foolish to bet against him. Assists are a little more difficult to pinpoint. I’m going to go with Sarabia. He recorded 17 assists in all competitions last season for Sevilla FC and I think he will surpass that number with the attacking quality ahead of him at PSG.
Which fixtures are you most looking forward to?
Terry: Olympique Lyonnais vs. PSG. Lyon restructured their front office and their staff, and are setting their goals as high as being Ligue 1 title contenders this season. We haven’t been able to beat them away from home in four years and I’d love for us to give them a beating at their home while they’re (finally) being ambitious again. I also can’t wait to see us spank Olympique de Marseille twice (or more) again and keep the tradition going.
Zack: I’m always looking forward to the matches against Marseille and Lyon. Every season, there is a new Ligue 1 club blossoming with talent (like Lille from last season) and I enjoy watching those matchups. Every Champions League match against clubs from the top five leagues is a pleasure to watch as well.
James: January 25 at Lille. They embarrassed us at their home ground last year, I’d like to see us avenge that one. September 21 at Lyon as that was our first loss last year. The first round of the knockout stage in the Champions League. I want to see how we handle a reverse fixture. Can we be better?
Jonathan: PSG – OL and all of the Champions League games. I am very excited about the upcoming season. I think we will see some improvements on all fronts and we will have a good year in the Champions League.
Cose: It’s hard to look forward to fixtures that don’t exist yet. So, on the Champions League front, at least, we will have to wait come August 29th so we can find out who Les Rouge et Bleu will have to battle in the group stage in the hopes for European glory. However, there’s plenty of domestic fixtures that will be interesting to watch throughout the whole year. First things first are the name of the game when PSG take on Nîmes Olympique in the first game of the season that hopefully can set the rhythm for the team throughout the rest of the year. On the other hand, you always have to keep an eye on Le Classique. PSG has come out on top in recent years but it’s always a battle when the two biggest clubs in France do battle on the pitch.
Ed: I always look forward to the Champions League matches. I get butterflies before kickoff every time and I can only imagine what the players feel before walking out on the pitch. Domestically, I’m looking forward to the matches against Lyon and Marseille like most PSG fans. Strasbourg away is always a tough match. Even though Lille lost Nicolas Pépé, they’re going to be good and feature several former PSG players.
What’s your prediction come the season’s end?
Terry: Uffff… I think we can win another Ligue 1 title this season. As far as trophies, I think that’ll be it. The national cups are getting tougher for us to clinch, as there are other teams that (rightfully) put these competitions on top of their priority goals of the season. As for the Champions League, I’m not sure. I want to see the group stage drawing before I can predict anything. I can tell you that, if we draw a group as tough as last season, we may not make it out to the Round of 16. Europa League-bound? That’d be interesting to see.
Zach: I predict another Ligue 1 title, and a recapturing of the domestic cup competitions. I also predict us to break through the Round of 16 in CL after a difficult last few seasons.
James: I’m not going to predict a CL Final win. But PSG will win Ligue 1, grabbing a cup along the way. They will advance to the quarter-finals of the Champions League. That is all I am willing to predict.
Jonathan: Ligue 1 champions, Trophée des Champions winners, Coupe de la Ligue Winners, Coupe de France winners, Champions Leauge quarter-finals, and a Ballon D’or winner on the team. Oh, and Neymar signs an extension.
Cose: I believe that with enough work and reinforcement, Paris can finally become a team that takes the next step and not only make life difficult for the elite teams of the world but to actually take a place within those ranks. With new targeted additions and a coach that we like to trust, we can hopefully see PSG claim their domestic dominance once again and finally break into the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Ed: Domestic dominance is a must. The club fell short of their goals last season and I want to see a return to dominance across all competitions in France. As far as the Champions League goes, it’s hard to predict that competition but I’ll say this. No matter what sport, a team must fall before they reach the summit. PSG has learned their lessons in previous season and I think the club can accomplish something special in Europe.
What’s your ideal starting XI?
Terry: Areola – Bernat, Marquinhos, Silva, Dagba – Herrera, Verratti – Neymar (Di Maria) – Di Maria (Sarabia), Cavani, Mbappé
Zach: Areola – Bernat, Marquinhos, Silva, Kehrer – Gueye, Verratti – Neymar – Mbappé, Cavani, Sarabia/Di Maria
James: Areola – Bernat, Marquinhos, Silva, Kehrer – Verratti, Herrera, Sarabia – Neymar, Mbappé, Di Maria (I have not seen too much of Geuye yet, but I would not be surprised to see my midfield preferences change.)
Jonathan: Areola – Bernat, Marquinhos, Kehrer, Meunier – Gueye, Verratti, Sarabia – Neymar, Cavani, Mbappé
Ed: Areola – Bernat, Marquinhos, Silva, Dagba – Gueye – Verratti, Sarabia – Neymar, Cavani, Mbappé
One Bold Prediction
Terry: Neymar will not play more than 10 games, all competitions included, for us this season.
Zach: If he stays, Neymar will thrive in a system where his midfield is not overrun. His success this season will convince him to stay longer than many might guess. This prediction could fail in a week 😉
James: Neymar plays in the knockout stage of the Champions League and propels us past the Round of 16, staying in good health and a positive mind. Sometimes, you have to speak it into existence.
Jonathan: Ballon D’or winner in the squad and Neymar signs an extension.
Ed: Before the end of the transfer window, PSG will sign a player for a fee higher than what they’ve already spent this summer.