Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City share similarities in Europe
Pep Guardiola has redefined English football this season. He made Manchester City play a brand never seen before. The Citizens blew all opposition away with their slick style. It was often beautiful to behold. The Etihad was a fortress. The runaway Premier League leaders played second fiddle to no side. But then came Liverpool.
Paris Saint-German has dominated Ligue 1 this campaign. The French giants have faced no real competition as they seek to reclaim their crown. After making a flying start on the continent, however, they fell apart. A 5-2 aggregate loss to Real Madrid was somewhat unexpected. After dismantling teams in the group stage, the Parisiens were expected to challenge in Europe.
PSG hit 24 goals in this season's first five Champions League matches. With 15 points in the bag, qualification for the next round was secured with a match to spare. They topped the group - one which featured European heavyweights Bayern Munich.
Man City won the first five Champions League games and qualified for the next round with a game to play, too.
PSG and City were in dreamland. Despite both receiving a reality check in their final group games, neither was expected to capitulate in the knockout phase.
Man City have recently suffered three successive losses in all competitions. It's not the form of a team which has held the footballing world spell-bound this season. Guardiola's side conceded eight goals in just seven days against Liverpool and Manchester United. How did a reasonably solid defence, having shipped in only 21 goals in 31 Premier League games prior to the derby, become so porous? And why did City's sublime attack fail to score at Anfield, finding the net just once over the two legs?
Granted, Man City will lift the Premier League trophy. Yet Guardiola's men were supposed to deliver beyond England. It is definitely not the end of the beautiful football exhibited from the blue half of Manchester; however, similar to Paris Saint-Germain, City thoroughly disappointed in Europe this season.
Man City and PSG will win the Premier League and Ligue 1 respectively, but both teams promised much more in the Champions League. Both failed woefully. Neither will be judged on domestic success. Performance in Europe's elite club competition is what really counts. The two teams' failure on the European stage shows money alone can't buy the most prestigious trophy.
Football can teach valuable lessons. The story of PSG and Man City proves experience is important. The two aspiring clubs were given harsh reality checks by Real Madrid and Liverpool. Spending big doesn't guarantee success at the very highest level. It should serve as a warning moving forward.
Despite possessing a strong squad, the holders Real Madrid refused to roll over for PSG. It was a no-contest in the end, though. A 5-2 aggregate scoreline revealed that the French side aren't quite ready to dine at Europe's top table. The same applies to Man City. With talents such as David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane in the line-up, Liverpool were not expected to proceed past the quarter-finals. However, this contest also became a one-way affair. A 5-1 aggregate defeat for City was a surprise, to say the least.
The pain of this season’s Champions League exit will linger for both Man City and PSG. However, it could provide motivation. City have a young group, players in their early twenties who will continue to improve. They are also hungry for success under Guardiola. They're capable of matching the club's ambitions by being crowned Europe's top team. The Parisiens can also bounce back stronger.
Man City and PSG failed in Europe this season. But don’t count them out of lifting the Champions League trophy in the near future.