Thomas Tuchel’s side begin bid for European success at home

Tuesday, October 20th, 2020 00:00 |

Paris, Monday

Paris Saint-Germain came so close to winning the prize they crave more than anything in last season’s Champions League and are hoping to go one better this time, but there are concerns that the Qatar-owned club might lost form in recent months.

Bayern Munich’s greater experience told in Lisbon in August, and there were tears at the end for Neymar as the French champions agonisingly lost 1-0 in their first ever Champions League final.

Two months on, Thomas Tuchel’s side begin their latest bid for European success at home to Manchester United on Tuesday, in a rematch of the last-16 tie in 2019, which PSG lost after a controversial late penalty.

It therefore brings back memories of just one of several painful defeats in the Champions League in recent years, but the reality is that Paris should be considered favourites against the Old Trafford side and to win a group also containing RB Leipzig and Istanbul Basaksehir. Yet, whether this will be the season they lift the Big Ears is still unknowwn.

Tuchel has been the first to complain that his squad is weaker than it was last season as PSG ­- having already seen several key players depart over the summer - have started the new campaign hamstrung by injuries, suspensions and coronavirus cases. 

Right-back Thomas Meunier and all-time record goal-scorer Edinson Cavani left when their contracts ended, not even sticking around for the latter stages of the Champions League in August - Cavani is now at United and could come back to haunt his old side this week.

Skipper Thiago Silva did stay for the ‘Final Eight’ in Lisbon but has since joined Chelsea and complained that sporting director Leonardo had been “clumsy and rushed” in refusing to offer him a deal to stay.

But if there was no love lost just a few weeks ago, Tuchel would have been pleased to see several new signings arrive just before the transfer window closed on October 5.

PSG signed two new midfielders, with Portuguese international Danilo Pereira arriving on loan from Porto and Rafinha joining on a three-year deal from Barcelona.

Italy striker Moise Kean was also captured on loan from Everton to strengthen the attack.

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe are still there of course, and so is Angel di Maria, but they still look light in defence.

But in the short term, PSG are still missing a host of players for the start of their European campaign. Influential left-back Juan Bernat is out with a knee injury, while midfield duo Marco Verratti and Leandro Paredes are expected to miss Tuesday’s game and Mauro Icardi is absent too.

Di Maria, at least, can play here while he serves a ban domestically. - AFP

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