For Paris Saint-Germain and its fans, the UEFA Champions League trophy has acted as the sort of MacGuffin that is just tangible enough to pursue, while also frustratingly out of reach to ever realistically achieve. I’d argue that right now the trophy has never been closer. PSG are three matches over the course of 11 days away.
PSG currently find themselves wounded, but hell they are always wounded. Bear in mind that the hero rarely accomplishes their goal undamaged by the journey. In this case, a journey that has spanned an entire year, losing their best players at every turn, and a four-month break for the coronavirus. Yeah, it’s been a journey alright.
But here they are on the doorstep of immortality, with their bag of excuses empty. It stares them right in the face, but are they brave enough to stare back at it? Can they muster all of their skill, experience, and will power to survive this latest and greatest test of their legacy? Can the captain summon the kind of leadership and strength that many feel he lacks, in his final act at the club he grew to love? Can PSG’s young gunslinger shake off a bum ankle and give his team the jolt of offensive energy it desperately needs? Can PSG’s enigmatic number 10 fulfill his promise and justify his €222 million move with the biggest trophy of them all?
Lots of questions, even fewer answers. But that’s what makes this so intriguing. A fortnight in Lisbon with a lifetime of glory or a few days stay that leaves the club once again shaken and unsure of itself. There really is no in-between here. High stakes football incoming.
On Wednesday, PSG will either begin or end their journey. The players want it, and never has there been a stronger sense that they’re unified in that desire. But wanting it is not enough, it never has been. In Lisbon, PSG are going to have to take it. Take it from other clubs who want it just as badly as they do. They first must take it from a plucky Atalanta who has scored more than any other team in Serie A this season. Then they will have to take it from stingy and experienced Atlético Madrid or RB Leipzig in the next round. Finally, they would have to take it from Pep Guardiola, or the Bayern Munich machine, or Lionel Messi in the twilight of his prime.
What PSG need to do here is not simple, it will be a stressful, complicated affair that will test their mental and physical toughness. But by God, it must be done. This fanbase has suffered enough, so have these players. They owe it to the fans, and more so to themselves. The golden path has been laid out before them, and as the saying goes, fortune favors the bold. Only the kind of determined boldness of a team on a mission will get this done. Nothing less will do.
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