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Is Christophe Galtier the man to finally win the Champions League for PSG?

IS CHRISTOPHE GALTIER THE MAN TO FINALLY WIN THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FOR PSG?It’s been over a decade now since Qatar Sports Investments completed the takeover of Paris Saint-Germain. Once considered a humble club with a rich history, PSG struggled to establish themselves in Ligue 1, forever in the shadow of Marseille, Lyon and reigning champions Lille, who had just lost talisman Eden Hazard to European champions Chelsea.

Realising an opportunity to strike, the wealthy Middle East organisation funded a full-fledged assault on the transfer market.

Over the course of five years, PSG would break records and make history in terms of fees, attracting the likes of Thiago Silva, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani to the city of love. The Parisians became the dominant force in French football, eliciting fear on French borders but failing to impose themselves on Europe. Desperate to ensure those betting on Champions League were aware of PSG’s presence at the Parc des Princes, the board trusted Unai Emery to break the world record for transfers in 2017, bringing in Neymar and Kylian Mbappé for a combined £315 million.

While domestic success was all but guaranteed at this point, capitulation after capitulation in the Champions League bemused Les Rouge-et-Bleu, and it would take until 2020 for them to reach a European final. With the showpiece in Portugal delayed until August due to the coronavirus pandemic, PSG lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich behind closed doors, essentially costing Thomas Tuchel his job. Mauricio Pochettino came in last season and despite more excessive spending, PSG just can’t seem to get over the line.

Now a new era descends on the French capital. Christophe Galtier arrives this summer with a reputation of delivering the goods as far as Ligue 1 is concerned. The Frenchman won the title with Nice in 2021 but questions will inevitably be asked of his ability in Europe. With Lionel Messi looking like he’s returned to form over the summer, and Neymar finally in sync having struggled for consistency last season, PSG will certainly have a good chance at making it to Istanbul for the final, but there are still some extraneous variables Galtier would like to control.

The first thing he’ll have to deal with is his players’ attitude. Mbappé looked visibly frustrated when he didn’t receive the ball in the club’s 5-2 win over Montpellier. And although Galtier tried to shake it off post-match, he still has some big personalities to deal with. The PSG dressing room has garnered a reputation as a toxic, ego-driven environment in years gone by, and when you throw in the likes of Sergio Ramos and Messi, serial winners with extremely high standards, things could become challenging.

“Having some problems with this profile of a competitor and a great player is not too much of a problem,” Galtier said after a first win on home soil. “It's more difficult when you have players who don't have that level. They are competitors, they all want to play, to score. But we will soon arrive in sequences of matches and everyone will have to understand that it will be necessary to arrange and manage the playing times of each other.”

With the group stage draw just a few sleeps away, PSG will be hoping for another relatively straightforward path to the knockout rounds. The World Cup break means games will come thick and fast, with all six set to be completed by mid-November. That means Galtier’s side will need to hit the ground running, with Manchester City their only competition last year.

Should the front three manage to work their magic on the biggest stage, and a new look back three with Ramos, Marquinhos and Presnel Kimpembe all keeping feet, then we could see a genuine pursuit of the Champions League from the Parisians, but one that could end either way given their history with the competition.


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