With the dust finally settling on the characteristically eventful UEFA Champions League Final just a few weeks ago — which had Real Madrid winning a record 14th title — fans are already beginning to scope out what next season will look like. For the most eagle-eyed soccer fans out there, the pre-season period we now find ourselves in is one of the best for locking in those early soccer odds.
Unlike Real Madrid, however, not every team in the league managed to put in a record-breaking performance. For Paris Saint-Germain in particular, this pre-season period will be particularly important as they try and make up for a rather lackluster showing last season.
What Went Wrong?
PSG started out in Group A, where they were matched up with Manchester City, RB Leipzig, and Club Brugge. Generally speaking, they put in solid performances against all three, eventually scoring a 2-0 victory against Man City, a 3-2 win against Leipzig, and a dominant 4-1 performance against Brugge.
Unfortunately for PSG, they performed less well in the first round of 16 matches following the group stages. Here, PSG was matched up with Real Madrid and ultimately failed to progress any further. PSG faced off against Real Madrid in two matches, the first of which they won 1-0.
However, although they looked relatively solid in the first game, they ultimately lost 1-3 in the second. This meant they lost out in the first round of 16 with a 2-3 aggregate.
Although there are likely a myriad of reasons why PSG failed to show up in the second game against Real Madrid — after all, Real Madrid did go on to become Champions — fans and analysts alike had high expectations for the superstar team.
Expectations were particularly high given that Lionel Messi had recently moved to the French team for an astronomical sum. These expectations were obviously heightened given that Messi had won the Champions League four times previously with Barcelona in 2006, 2009, 2011, and 2015.
Unfortunately for Messi, however, the final Round 16 match against Real Madrid turned into a nightmare when they were knocked out by his historic rivals. Jamie Carragher was particularly critical of this performance, even going on to label it “absolutely embarrassing”.
What Went Right?
Although the Champions League wasn’t much to write home about from PSG’s perspective, there were nevertheless some positive takeaways.
Perhaps most notably, Kylian Mbappé proved to be just as important a player as ever. In the 673 minutes of total playtime he racked up during the tournament, he scored six goals. This earned Mbappé a top seven ranking in the top goal scorers for the tournament. Mbappé also managed to come in the top five assisting players, with four assists to his name. The UEFA technical study group thus selected Mbappé for their ‘Team of the Tournament’ selection.
What Does the Future Hold?
With all that said, what does the future hold for PSG, and more importantly, what do their chances look like for next season?
Given the unceremonious circumstances in which they were knocked out of the tournament, there has understandably been an effort to shake up the team in the aftermath — not least because the Qatari investors have been pouring hundreds of millions of euros into attracting talent to the team.
Overseeing this shake-up is Luis Campos, who has recently been appointed as an advisor to the club. Campos previously acted as a sporting director at both Monaco and Lille, most notably contributing to Lille’s Ligue 1 title win in 2020-21 when they triumphed over a beleaguered PSG.
It is hoped that Campos will help the Parisians chart a new course for the upcoming season — particularly given the shock departure of Leonardo Araújo as sporting direction.
Another positive note for PSG is that Kylian Mbappé has signed an extension to remain at the club — something that was undoubtedly helped by his staggering €22m salary!
Significant changes are also underway at the coaching level. Head coach Mauricio Pochettino came under close scrutiny following PSG’s exit from the tournament, with rumors immediately beginning to swirl about his departure.
These were confirmed recently when news broke that Pochettino and PSG have reached an agreement to terminate the Argentinian’s contract. Although a replacement has not been confirmed, the media has reported that Zinedine Zidane is in the running, along with Christophe Galtier and Jose Mourinho.
With that said, it is still unclear what the future holds for PSG as they try to recover from this latest loss. However, given how seriously the powers that be at the club appear to be taking their defeat in the 2021-22 Champions League, it is clear they are determined to make up for this disappointing performance.