Paris Saint-Germain and Mauricio Pochettino have both had the misfortune of suffering Champions League final heartbreak, but this could be the year they put those demons to rest.
Having dispatched Barcelona with little trouble in the last 16 of the competition, PSG now look to have the players and manager to finally go all the way and achieve their dream of European glory.
Lessons Learned From the Past
PSG came so close to achieving the European success the club’s hierarchy have been craving last term, only to lose 1-0 at the hands of Bayern Munich in the final. It was a Parisian who broke PSG hearts in that showdown in Lisbon, with France international Kingsley Coman scoring the decisive goal.
It was a bitter disappointment for PSG, who are 11/2 with Paddy Power in the odds on the UEFA Champions League to win the competition this season, but it’s an experience they will have learned from. Star players Neymar and Kylian Mbappe both featured in that game, but just could not find a way past the dominant Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer.
Since the final, manager Thomas Tuchel has moved on to pastures new with Chelsea, while Pochettino is now the man in the hot seat at the Parc des Princes. The Argentine tactician knows the sinking feeling of losing a Champions League final himself, having seen his Tottenham side lose to Liverpool in the 2018/19 final. But the drive for both PSG and Pochettino to finally win the tournament will now be stronger than ever.
Promising Signs Being Shown
There is still some way to go in the tournament, but PSG have already produced displays in the competition this term that will have caught their rivals’ attention. A 4-1 demolition of Barcelona at the Camp Nou was certainly a performance that turned heads. Mbappe bagged a hat-trick that night for the Ligue 1 giants, who played the Blaugrana off the park on their own patch. While Barca might be going through a transitional phase, this was still some achievement that former Espanyol player and manager Pochettino will have taken great pleasure in.
The fact PSG were also able to progress past Barca without one of their key assets in Neymar was even more of an achievement. Neymar has continued to be plagued by injuries, but it’s hoped the Brazilian international will be able to feature in the latter stages of the competition. With a fully fit Neymar back in their ranks, PSG should be more than a match for any team.
Verratti a Driving Force
While many of the attacking stars will claim much of the plaudits at the Parisian giants, it continues to be the Italian maestro Marco Verratti who pulls the strings. The 28-year-old is a player who is continuing to develop, and plays a similar role to that of countryman Andrea Pirlo during his playing days.
Keeping Verratti fit and fresh will be just one of the challenges ahead of Pochettino, who will be focused on trying to deliver that Champions League success the club has been desperately seeking.