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Why Have PSG Continually Failed in Europe?

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Why Have PSG Continually Failed in Europe?

11 years is a long time in football, but it’s been an eternity for Paris Saint-Germain.

After being bought by the Qatari Sport investment group in 2011, domination was needed not just in France, but in Europe and the World. The formula for this success, when moving outside of France, has yet to be found and after another failed Champions League campaign, what’s next for the Parisians and where has it gone wrong?

Money has never been a problem for the side from the French capital. Since the investment from QSI, PSG have spent an astronomical €1.41 billion on player transfers. This included the world record €222 million spent on Neymar when he joined from Barcelona in 2017.

Neymar has been joined by other superstar transfers around the world. This has included Kylian Mbappe, Thiago Silva, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Gianluigi Donnarumma. The final piece of the puzzle however looked to have been completed last summer, when Lionel Messi signed on a free transfer from Barcelona.

The Parisians’ Latest Shortcomings

The 2021/22 season was supposed to be the season where the Champions League was to return to France for the first time since bitter rivals, Marseille, became the kings of Europe in 1993.

A steady group stage, including a home win against Manchester City, meant that PSG finished second in their group. A last 16 tie against 13 times Champions of Europe, Real Madrid, was PSG’s first test to see if this year could be any different.

The first leg at the Parc De Princes showed a different side to PSG. They looked resilient. Keeping Benzema and co quiet, Mbappe’s 94th-minute winner gave the French side the win they thoroughly deserved.

At the Bernabeu, Mauricio Pochettino’s side controlled the first half and the talk of the town, Mbappe, got his second goal of the tie to give PSG a commanding 2-0 lead.

As the second half commenced, PSG’s mental fragility reared its ugly head again. Benzema's goal in the 61st minute saw PSG still in control, but when the former Lyon man struck again just 15 minutes later, PSG lose all state of being. Straight from the kick-off, Benzema scored a hat-trick in just 17 minutes.

Real went through, whilst PSG collapsed once again.

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PSG Lacks the Mentality Required to Succeed

Mentality, or lack of mentality, has been one of PSG’s main downfalls when it comes to their lack of European success.

The one year where PSG did manage to get to the Champions League final, there were many factors playing into their advantage. No fans were allowed in the stadiums, eradicating frantic atmospheres. The Ligue 1 season was also cut short early.

PSG just had the Champions League and without the excruciating pressure of the Ultras at the Parc De Princes, Thomas Tuchel’s side thrived. A comeback win over Atalanta and a thrashing of RB Leipzig finally meant that PSG could play for the biggest prize in club football.

They eventually fell short in the final, losing to an all-star Bayern Munich side who have countless experience in big European games, becoming Champions of Europe for the sixth time. This showed that PSG were ready to play in the biggest game in club football, but, yet again, their mentality has held them back.

That time has yet to come. The pressure from the fans is back. After losing to Real this season, fans booed Messi and co when they returned to league action. A constant sense of underachievement is being hammered on this PSG squad.

The word squad may be a stretch when talking about this PSG team. A team is where everyone works together towards the same goal. PSG are a team of individuals.

Neymar joined PSG in 2017 not to be part of the project and help the team, but to escape Messi’s shadow at Barcelona. To show that he was the best and to help himself be the best in the world, to win the Ballon d’Or.

Now that Messi has joined the Brazilian in Paris, the team’s sense of being just a collection of stars has been heightened. The functionality is not there and for this PSG will continue to be a struggle.

Another Ligue 1 title is in the bag but even last year, success in France was not guaranteed. The 2020/21 Champions of France were Lille. Lille were a team and despite not having the talent of PSG, they worked together and conquered France. Both teams exiting at the last 16 of the Champions League is the ultimate show of PSG’s weaknesses.

Pochettino looks likely to be gone by the time the new season starts and PSG’s latest Champions League campaign. Will it be different this time? Time will tell but until PSG change, being the Champions of Europe will remain out of grasp.