Au revoir Barcelona
It appears the times are changing in the world of football. Fading are the days of Barcelona’s dominance and a new group of teams looks set to replace them. One of those teams is last season’s Champions League runners-up, Paris Saint-Germain.
They conquered the Catalan side in impressive fashion with a 4–1 victory at the Nou Camp, followed by a 1–1 draw in Paris. Kylian Mbappe was the star of the show, with a hat-trick in the first leg, along with a successfully converted penalty in the second.
Lionel Messi led his Barca side as best as he could by scoring the penalty in the first game, smashing in a long-range strike in the return fixture, before his 2nd penalty of the round was saved by Keylor Navas.
Looking at PSG’s Champions League form from last season and the current campaign, as well as the performances of arguably the two best players in the world right now, Mbappe and Neymar, they are serious contenders to win it all as shown in the Champions League odds, with their chance of winning coming in at 9/1.
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A new European powerhouse is looming
It’s no secret that Barcelona are in a bit of a crisis right now. Not just in the boardroom, but on the field too. They’ve had to address the serious issue of an aging side, along with the prospect of finding an heir to the now 33-year-old Messi.
There was lots of speculation around the future of Messi last summer when he expressed his desire to leave, and many are tipping this to be the final year, especially after disappointment in the Champions League and what may also be an unsuccessful La Liga campaign.
But where could he go? There are rumors circulating that good friend Neymar and Angel Di Maria, as well as golden boy Mbappe, are making moves to bring the 6 times Ballon D’Or winner to Paris.
It could be said that Messi is the main reason Barcelona haven’t declined even further. His 27 goals so far this season, way above Griezmann’s 13 in second place, appear to be the team’s main source for hope.
He is unfortunately aging and is not expected to lead the line for much longer, and this is a common theme in many areas of the pitch. Although they have cut many of their aging players, the likes of Gerard Pique (34), Sergio Busquets (32), and Jordi Alba (31) are three that still remain.
PSG’s rise to the top has taken some time with some major setbacks along the way, but the squad, the head coach, and standings are finally looking more like what the owners set out to achieve when they took over. The squad has a mix of some of Europe’s elite and South America’s top players.
In the years gone by, PSG have struggled in European competition, often being knocked-out in the round of 16, but their runners-up achievement is a strong representation of the quality of their squad.
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They’ve gone from the squad players such as Javier Pastore, Yohan Cabaye, Lassana Diarra, Jesé, and Alphonse Areola to Mauro Icardi, Danilo Pereira, Keylor Navas, Ander Herrera, and Pablo Sarabia as some of the recent additions in recent years, outside of the global superstars that they have.
Their squad value has gone from £522.99m 3 seasons ago to £782.82m today. While Thomas Tuchel was very successful with the side, they are now coached by one of the coaches with the highest reputations in the world right now — Mauricio Pochettino.
Leading the line are two of the biggest names in football, Mbappe, and Neymar. Dubbed the second-coming of Brazilian Ronaldo, Mbappe is one of the most, if not the most exciting player in football, and teamed with the equally exciting Neymar, this team has the potential to be unstoppable in attack.
Now with a much-improved goalkeeper situation, defense, and midfield depth, it makes sense why they are being touted to win everything. Throughout the 2010s, Barcelona was one of the most dominant sides in the world.
But with everything that’s currently happening at the club, their place on the podium of world football is shrinking. PSG is perhaps the club to replace them if they haven’t already done so. They have stiff competition against the likes of Manchester City and Bayern Munich, but they appear to have overtaken Barcelona already as shown in their recent showdown.
The question of whether or not Paris Saint-Germain will replace Barcelona on the world stage is still up for grabs according to many fans and experts, it is Barcelona after all, and they will not go down without a fight.
But PSG, who may be perceived as throwing money at everything is hard to deny considering their wealth, but they have built a solid strategy that is actually very carefully orchestrated.
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PSG have certainly elevated themselves to the top in terms of brand and reputation, looking at the links with Air Jordan, which will make them one of the most recognizable teams in terms of image (competing on this front also with Barcelona), which has a positive effect on the pitch of course.
Their recruitment has been solid too and has allowed them to build strong chemistry mixing some of the best South Americans with top French and European players to create a squad with extreme quality in depth.
On paper, you could argue that everything points towards Paris when deciding who to put your money on. Paris Saint-Germain appears to be the future of football certainly, but they also appear to be close to securing the title as the club of today. All that can be sealed with a victory in the Champions League.