5 truths Paris Saint-Germain v Real Madrid could reveal
Paris Saint-Germain v Real Madrid is a match fit for the Champions League final. The tie arrives early in the knockout stages only because Madrid finished second to Tottenham in its group.
Needless to say, PSG will give Los Blancos their toughest test yet in the Liga champion's quest for a Champions League three-peat. Yet, there is so much more attached to the outcome of these fixtures than just the quarter-final ticket. Here's a short list:
An aggregate win will confirm PSG as a serious contender for this season’s title
Yes, it’s true that PSG blew away every opponent in their path to the knockout rounds until the final group match in Munich. A 3-0 thrashing of Bayern at the Parc des Princes came first, however. When a team scores 24 goals in five matches and concedes just one, it should be taken seriously. The defeat to Bayern was only PSG’s second loss of the season. It can serve as a reality check.
The double-header against Madrid is a chance to prove doubters wrong. Victory for Les Parisiens will confirm what many have come to expect of the club since the Neymar transfer saga. That PSG is a serious contender to win this season’s UCL.
Money alone cannot buy you the title
Signing Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, two of the hottest stars in the round leather game, spoke volumes to PSG’s ambition. Spending over €400 million for two players reveals unlimited desire. But those players must produce when it counts. A Madrid win will demonstrate PSG needs more than money to win the Champions League.
Unai Emery won the Europa League back-to-back with Sevilla. But if PSG’s capitulation in the second leg to Barcelona last season is anything to go by, he may well be an Achilles heel for his club. The Europa League is not the Champions League. The two competitions are certainly not on the same level. Greater character is required to win the latter. The UCL is where you must be at your very best to beat the best.
How can Emery explain coming from a 4-0 first leg win to lose 6-1 in a match that would have seen you progress at 0-3? It was embarrassing, to say the least. But it was not for the lack of good players.
A team that beats a full-strength Barcelona team 4-0 cannot be a poor team. It was a case of poor mental discipline. It's a coach's job to instill that. Neymar and Mbappe are young. If Emery can't guide them, it's legitimate to wonder whether they have the maturity to carry a side?
Been there done that
As already stated above, winning the UCL requires much more than money. Having been through the process is important. Having won the competition even more so. Unfortunately for PSG, Madrid can check those boxes. The French side cannot.
The king is dead, long live the king
Neymar was heralded as the next big thing even before he left Santos for Barcelona. After some very productive seasons with Barcelona, he decided to move to PSG. He is said to be seeking a new adventure. Others claim he wants to step out from under Messi’s shadow to finally become the man. And, of course, to win the Ballon d'Or.
If Neymar does play a significant role in PSG progressing at Madrid’s expense, then goes on to star in the final, who can deny him the honour?
The king is not dead, long live the king
Ronaldo has played a pivotal role in Madrid’s Champions League titles throughout his period at the club. It’s no surprise then that he has won four Ballon d’Ors as a Real Madrid player. Less so to himself. In his time, he has made history with his goals and overall contribution to the team’s success. As the highest goal scorer in the competition, he has been the king of the Champions League.
This season, he has been criticized by many, especially those who feel he is past his prime. In the past week, he has answered those critics. Two goals against Celta Vigo were followed by the record-setter in the Club World Cup. Helping Madrid progress will show he is still the king.