Like never in recent years, the 2021 European pass market was followed as yet another tournament among soccer fans. Big stars and referents of the most important clubs in the world changed course, put on other shirts, and the impact of seeing them wearing new colors is still felt.
In this competition of the reinforcements, there was a clear winner: Paris Saint-Germain. The Parisian team put together an intimidating squad with the clear objective of paying off their debt to the UEFA Champions League and becoming champions for the first time. Can you achieve it in 2022?
If money doesn’t buy happiness, don’t tell Nasser Al-Khelaïfi. The Qatari owner of PSG invested in a big way and, among other good hires, brought Lionel messi, Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Georginio Wijnaldum, dreaming of lifting the Orejona next year.
However, coach Mauricio Pochettino still finds it difficult to make the team shine, earning some suspicions from fans, but mainly from the French media.
So much so, that DT himself already showed his anger in press conferences and post-match interviews when they complained about the lack of collective team functioning. In addition, he had to endure the appointment of Zinedine Zidane as a candidate to replace him.
It is true that PSG does not shine, not as expected. Perhaps it is due to the little time of work that the new figures have with the rest of the squad, or the difficulty of integrating so many attackers within the same team, but It is clear that he is still not close to meeting the expectations of the game that were generated by this year’s signings. In any case, the quality of the team’s play regressed compared to the one that reached the Champions League final in 2020.
In any case, Pochettino’s team ranks first in the Ligue 1 table with a 15-point advantage over Marseille, its pursuer, and having lost only 1 match of 18 disputed. In the Champions League, it was classified in second place, falling only against the pointer Manchester City. Not bad for a team that continues to seek its game.
But the suspicions that PSG may generate with their level make sense when compared to the best teams on the continent. A completely fair comparison considering the squad he has and his aspirations to win the Champions League. To beat the best at least you have to be at their height, and at this moment you are not.
In the round of 16, and after the scandalous UEFA draw, Pochettino’s team will finally face Real Madrid, an old acquaintance of Lionel Messi. With preseason in between, it is a great opportunity to stomp, clear up doubts and assume the candidacy for the title, the one that was automatically attributed to him by the football world when all the arrivals in the last transfer market were completed.
He will face the Spanish team, which is always a candidate for its history. They are the team with the most Champions League titles and they have just won their group comfortably, leaving Inter, the last Italian champion, in second place. Eliminating it would be the perfect clean and jerk for Parisians.
Still, this Real Madrid, without the same power of a few years ago, would not be the greatest threat to PSG. Among the great candidates for the title there are two who are going through a great moment: Bayern Munich and Manchester City.
The German side were unstoppable as ever, winning all their group stage matches with ease, while the English side claimed the lead in PSG’s Group A.
Despite losing the first place in the group, Pochettino’s team went hand in hand in their crosses with Pep Guardiola’s team: they lost 2-1 in England and won 2-0 in the Parc des Princes. A sign of hope for the tough games to come.
And for this stage of elimination, the illusion of all Paris is carried on Lionel Messi’s shoulders. The Argentine shocked the French capital and the whole world with his arrival, making it impossible not to deposit in him the dreams of achieving maximum glory in Europe. Even the player himself fueled that desire by saying in his presentation: “I came to the ideal place to win the Champions League”.
So far, La Pulga has shown its best version in the European tournament, scoring 5 goals in 5 games played and taking the first steps towards building a great partnership with Neymar and Kylian Mbappé, who was a key player in his goal against Manchester City. with a subtle return.
On the other hand, in Ligue 1 Messi still could not unfold his full potential. The ’30’ played 10 games, scored 1 goal and gave 5 assists. In this competition it was where the irregular play of the team suffered the most, being disconnected from the action for long stretches of several games.
Messi himself recognized Mark:
“Everyone says that we are the favorites. I will not deny that we are one of the candidates by name, but we still need things to be a really strong team. We have to consolidate as a team and we have the advantage of having great players to achieve it. “
Likewise, this Champions League has a special seasoning for La Pulga. It is his great challenge before playing the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, a unique opportunity to stretch the winning trail left by his consecration in the America’s Cup and reach the highest event in a state of grace.
The last time he raised the Orejona was in 2015 with Barcelona, defeating Juventus in the final played at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.
Now, with the weight of the years but in “the ideal place” to repeat history, Messi will seek to consecrate himself again in a 2022 full of challenges and give the first Champions League to PSG, the one that has been elusive in the last time.