On March 6, 2019, Paris Saint-Germain suffered perhaps their most embarrassing defeat of the Qatar Sports Investments era. On that night, it was Manchester United celebrating a 3-1 victory and advancement to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League at the Parc des Princes.
Leading up to that game, it would have been difficult to find a single PSG supporter who could have envisioned this result and I would guess most gambling sites in the UK wouldn’t have favored United either.
In the first leg, the French giants dominated United and left Old Trafford with a 2-0 win. To make matters worse for the Red Devils, Paul Pogba received a yellow card and would be suspended for the return leg.
As it turned out, United didn’t need their French superstar and instead, they fielded a relatively inexperienced side when they visited Paris and shocked the world with their performance.
Crashing out of the Champions League to that Manchester United side cemented PSG’s legacy as a club that simply couldn’t live up to the hype under the bright lights no matter the opponent…until last season’s Champions League campaign.
Last August, PSG marched through the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and eventually reached the finals against FC Bayern Munich (where they eventually lost 1-0) once play resumed following a long layoff due to COVID-19.
Not only did PSG break through the glass ceiling, but they had to come from behind in a couple of cases. Before the pandemic shut down football last March, they overturned a 2-1 deficit to Borussia Dortmund after the first leg of the Round of 16, and then in the quarter-finals, they scored two late goals to advance past Atalanta.
The 2020-21 season is well underway and after a rocky start, PSG has found their rhythm, winning their last five matches by a combined score of 16-1. Next week, the group stage of the Champions League begins and up first for the reigning French champions is…you guessed it, Manchester United.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side returns to the scene of the crime, the Parc des Princes, and waiting for them will be a PSG squad that would love nothing more than to treat them like Angers SCO and put six goals past them. That might be easier said than done, though.
Ahead of PSG’s most recent match, a 4-0 win over Nîmes Olympique in Ligue 1, several starters were left out of the squad due to injury, COVID-19, and suspension. Marquinhos, Marco Verratti, Julian Draxler, Juan Bernat, Mauro Icardi, and Thilo Kherer were all absent due to various injuries, and Danilo Pereira will only be allowed to train with his teammates after a negative COVID-19 test. In that win over Nîmes, Leandro Paredes went down with an injury and it remains to be seen how much time he’ll miss.
Now, some of these players may be able to return in time but I’m not sure how many minutes Thomas Tuchel can really play them with Marquinhos perhaps being the most important as he’s the captain of PSG and the best defender.
The meeting with Manchester United next Tuesday will be an opportunity for Les Parisiens to right the wrong from 2019. It will also set the tone for the Champions League group stage, which includes two matches against a very talented RB Leipzig side. With Kylian Mbappé and Neymar Jr. in the last two years of their contracts, time is running out to win the biggest trophy in club competition with those two superstars in the lineup.
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