PSG have finally shown a Champions League challenger


When you look at the squad that Mauricio Pochettino has at his disposal, the nauseating mediocrity that Paris Saint-Germain has given out for “football” this season has simply not been acceptable.

The last few weeks have symbolized the serious disappointment that the club has given its fan base. Even though they put 11 points left at the Ligue 1 summit, they have been, well, quite dirty – and that, for real fee-paying fans, is not really fair.

A draw 0-0 against Nice before they only saved one point on Lens in their last two domestic matches apparently indicated that all hope for their European campaign has died. Inconsistent performances that lack the collective spirit needed for success in the Champions League clearly indicated the difficulty they would face when facing off against the likes of Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool or Real Madrid.

But just when the pressure was off and there was absolutely no need to bid on a party of a performance, PSG finally dazzled.

Tuesday night’s 4-1 blitz by Club Brugge may not have been an important result, but it was really an important achievement in the big picture of Pochettino’s team campaign.

Where PSG had previously relied on individual stars to earn results, the team clearly pushed in a unanimous direction and stepped up on the plate as a collective on Tuesday. Where a lack of intensity and desire had previously cost the side, it was an unsurpassed pace that blew away Bruges. And where fans were previously left in despair, the Parc des Princes was in full swing on a glorious Champions League occasion.

From the first second, there was a buzz and determination around the movement, the connection and the overall creativity within the PSG squad.

Di Maria ➡️ Mbappe

Two quick goals for Kylian Mbappe against Club Brugge, but it’s all about the assistant from the Argentine? #UCL

– Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) December 7, 2021

Kylian Mbappe’s opening attack after just 70 seconds indicated the night that Bruges had on standby. Then his second goal, a fantastic effort within seven minutes, confirmed the Belgian outfit’s previous fears.

Both goals were born out of increased urgency in the Paris game. From more movement between the lines – creating more opportunities for fast-paced interaction – to a visibly developed understanding between the players themselves – to facilitate the said interaction – it just clicked. And when they played at the speed they had in the first half, Bruges could not be expected to handle their hosts.

Yes, seven minutes before half-time, Lionel Messi scored an astonishing goal to exacerbate the guests’ misery. Mbappe was once again central, he did outstanding on the left wing before recording the ball to his Argentine colleague. The little wizard then took a few grips on Simon Mignolet’s goal before rolling the ball around Bruges’ helpless goalkeeper.

Another incredible Champions League attack from Lionel Messi?

Kylian Mbappe drove hard, Messi applied the curling finish? #UCL

– Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) December 7, 2021

A first half, which would have felt like an eternity for Philippe Clement and his men, went in a flash for PSG-affiliated and neutral spectators.

The other was a little tougher, with Brugge enjoying a revitalizing period just after the break. Despite Clement’s side getting a well-deserved goal to pull one back, Pochettino’s men soon regained control, taking over their opposition and adding a fourth for good.

Lionel Messi: ylKylian Mbappe: ⚽⚽

A deadly duo for PSG in the Champions League? #UCL

– Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) December 7, 2021

In general, it was a performance stacked with calm, perseverance, desire, intelligence, cohesion and supernatural quality that lifted its head in the build-up to the goals in the first half – in other words, qualities that you really should not have paired with. PSG’s season up to this point.

The 4-1 victory may not mean anything at all to PSG’s final standings in their Champions League squad, but on a broader level it was definitely a small reminder that they can still play – and that when they want to play, they do that for hell.

It has been a pretty overwhelming 2021/22 campaign so far, but they are definitely still in contention for their first European Cup.

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