A season of inconsistent performances for Paris Saint-Germain could still end in an unprecedented domestic and European treble. That’s what manager Mauricio Pochettino will be telling his players during the run-in to an extraordinary 2020/21 season in France and abroad.
An Instant Impact for the Argentine
Hired only as recently as January 2021, Pochettino’s arrival was meant to kickstart a season in which Paris had vastly underperformed expectations and looked lifeless in defense of their Ligue 1 title. Champions of France in seven of the last eight seasons, they remain locked in a title fight with Lille, Monaco and Lyon despite their revival under the highly-touted Argentine. Pochettino was sacked in November 2019 by a Tottenham side he had taken to a Champions League final only six months prior – now, according to the latest UEFA Champions League betting, he is a 2/1 shot to repeat that feat with the French champions.
Indeed, standing in his way is a team he defeated on the way to that Champions League final in 2019 in Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Though City’s quest for the elusive ‘quadruple’ is now over, winning the Champions League has been their main goal since Sheikh Mansour’s ownership group first took over in 2008. City may be listed favorites in the semi-final tie – and to win the tournament overall – but they have been fancied as such in previous years, only to fall short at the crucial moment.
City and PSG Share a Similar Goal
City’s relentless pursuit of European glory is something PSG can sympathize with, of course. The signings of Neymar for £200 million and Kylian Mbappé for £163 million, still the record transfers of all time, came as part of a massive project in the 2010s to turn this Paris team into a continental superpower. The squad remains stacked with talent after those two megastars, among them Mauro Icardi, Angel di Maria, Presnel Kimpembe and Keylor Navas. That free-spending enterprise had been limited to a string of quarter-final appearances, however, until last year’s narrow 1-0 defeat by Bayern Munich in the final in Lisbon.
But this campaign has shown massive promise in Europe, with Mbappé starring in a round of 16 rout over Barcelona in which the young starlet tormented the Catalan defense over two legs. And after seeing off their former conquerors Bayern in the quarter-finals, perhaps now is the time to dream for this PSG squad. They have shown themselves capable of competing with the very best in Europe – now they will need another massive performance to overcome a deep Manchester City team that has been waiting for European success for just as long.
Domestically, PSG remain in with a chance to retain the Coupe de France, a tournament in which they’ve appeared in the last six finals, winning five. The Ligue 1 title will surely go down to the wire, with PSG’s rivals desperately hoping to return to the top of the pile after years of Parisian dominance in France’s top tier.