5 observations from matchday 3 of the Champions League group stages
The latest round of Champions League group stage matches were played tonight, and as expected, it was full of fireworks and entertainment.
It kicked off with two stalemates, as Tottenham and PSV Eindhoven, as well as Monaco and Club Brugge played out 2-2 and 1-1, draws respectively. Later on, more excitement was served with PSG and Napoli playing out the most enthralling match, as PSG twice came from behind to level up at home in the most dramatic of circumstances.
Clubs like Dortmund and Barcelona all but secured their qualification to the next round, while PSG, Inter Milan and Napoli still have work to do. Here are five telling observations from the latest round of Champions League fixtures.
#5 Seven years on and the PSG European project is still yet to kick into full gear
PSG’s fortunes got altered massively when Qatar Sports Investment (QSI) took over the club in a multi-million euro deal, and since then, they’ve been transformed from a mid-table French team into serial winners of the Ligue 1.
The takeover was done with the view to making the club genuine European heavyweights both domestically and on the continent.
While the former has been achieved with PSG undisputedly the kings of French football, winning 6 out of the last 7 French league titles, it is on the European scene where they have flattered to deceive massively.
Over one billion pounds have been invested on player recruitment since 2011, and the Parisians currently boast of having the two most expensive players of all time within their ranks, but they have failed to make it to the semi-final of the Champions League.
Even more worryingly, they have failed to make an impact in matches against the best of Europe, shockingly capitulating whenever they come up against one of the genuine heavyweights of football, with the shock 6-1 reversal against Barcelona despite having a 4-0 first-leg lead in the Champions League two seasons ago serving as a perfect example of this.
Mbappe and more, in particular, Neymar were signed with the intention of leading their charge in Europe against the best teams, but two seasons on from the massive outlay to get them, PSG does not look any closer to going further than the quarter-final.
They kicked off their campaign this season with a tame showing in a 3-2 defeat to Liverpool at Anfield, before going on to register a 6-0 romp of Crvena Zvezda in characteristic fashion.
Against Napoli, PSG came into the match knowing they needed to avoid defeat at all costs but preferably get a victory to boost the qualification hopes, but got off to the worst start possible when they went behind to Napoli courtesy a smart chip by Lorenzo Insigne.
An equalizer was gotten through an own goal before Dries Mertens put the visitors ahead once again in the 77th minute. PSG’s hopes of making it to the second round were hanging on the thread until Angel Di Maria handed them a lifeline with a well-curled effort deep into stoppage time.
PSG lived to fight another day on the night, but their performance was far from convincing, and they still have some way to go before being considered among the genuine elite of European football.