Why PSG Can Finally Win Champions League Despite Messi, Neymar Departures

Why PSG Can Finally Win Champions League Despite Messi, Neymar Departures

Martin Moses
September 19, 2023 at 12:06 PM
  • Paris Saint-Germain will be out to make amends in the Champions League for the umpteenth time
  • The club lost Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr. but signed new players that could prove to be a bargain
  • PSG begin their campaign for a maiden title in a group that many consider the toughest this season

The 2023/2024 Champions League season will begin tonight with the not-so-different undertones.

After Manchester City's triumph last season, the pressure will now be on Paris Saint-Germain to replicate the success of the English side, given how much investment has been made over the years.

PSG's best performance in the 'Big Ears' trophy remains when they reached the 2020 final before losing against Bayern Munich to a Kingsley Coman strike.

Luis Enrique, Paris Saint-Germain, Neymar, Mbappe
Paris Saint-Germain Head Coach, Luis Enrique. Photo by Aurelien Meunier.
Source: Getty Images

Apart from that, it has been a case of so close yet so far or on other occasions, borderline embarrassments of the round of 16 exits despite the armoury at their disposal.

The French giants will head into the new Champions League season with renewed hope, hoping this will be the season they might go all the way.

Failure of Messi-Mbappe-Neymar

When they signed Lionel Messi in 2021, alongside the four other arrivals of Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnaruma, Achraf Hakimi, and Georgino Wijnaldum, expectation was rife that they had finally assembled a team to conquer Europe.

I mean, having one of the best players in history teaming up with one of his heirs apparent and one of his closest (or not that close) challengers in previous years sounded like a recipe for success.

Only that it wasn't. It quickly became apparent that Messi, Kylian Mbappe, and Neymar could not co-exist in the same team. The defensive phases of the Ligue 1 giants would break down, given the 'Big 3' offered little to no support whenever the team was under pressure.

That might work in Ligue 1 but when facing the who's who in Europe, as they saw against Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in successive years, you need a well-oiled machine - not just a collection of big superstars.

That's why Messi and Neymar leaving might be a blessing in disguise, to some extent.

A new-look PSG

In their places, the Qatar-backed club moved in for Ousmane Dembele, Marco Asensio, Goncalo Ramos, and Randal Kolo Muani. There was also a change in management, with former Barcelona manager, Luis Enrique taking over from Christophe Galtier.

In the new additions, Enrique has potent attackers who can work track back and help out when push comes to shove. Of course, their ceilings and potential are nothing compared to what Messi and Neymar had/has but at times, hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard enough.

The midfield has also been another sore concern for PSG over the years. Marco Veratti, despite his higher ratings, failed to find the spark to transition play and bring life into the 'Big Three.' This speaks partly to why Enrique did away with him.

Manuel Ugarte was brought in early from Sporting Lisbon. The Uruguayan can break play, disrupt opposition attacks, and initiate his own team's offence. And from a financial point of view, signing the 22-year-old for just roughly €52 million in a summer holding midfielders were going for over €100mil was good business.

Lucas Hernandez and Milan Skriniar were also roped in to shore up a defence that already has one of the best in the game - Marquinhos.

Can PSG finally win the Champions League?

After all is said and done, Enrique and the PSG hierarchy will feel they have a team that can compete. Save for Mbappe, they have a squad of players whose egos can be managed and asked to toe the line in case of unbecoming behaviour.

The question on many people's minds would be if they can finally go all the way and win a maiden Champions League title. Methinks, yes, they can. But first, they have to navigate the 'group of death', per Goal, that contains Borussia Dortmund, AC Milan, and Newcastle United.

Unmissable Champions League games

Sports Brief has also reported that the highly anticipated 2023-24 Champions League is now within reach, with European football's elite teams battling it out in the most prestigious club competition on the planet.

Football enthusiasts have found it hard to shake off the resonant Champions League anthem, which chants, "These are the champions! Die Meister! Die Besten! Les grandes équipes! The champions!" from their minds.

As we approach the kickoff, here are the top five must-watch games for the opening matchday of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League including a tie between French giants PSG and German titans Borussia Dortmund.

Martin Moses photo
Martin Moses
Editor- EPL I Serie A
UEFA Champions LeagueKylian MbappéNeymarLionel Messi