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French press blast PSG ‘fiasco’ after another limp exit

After a feeble performance against Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Tuesday the French press showed little sympathy for big-spending PSG.

French press blast PSG 'fiasco' after another limp exit
Photo: AFP

PSG were eliminated at the quarter final stage of the Champions League for the fourth year on the run after a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City on Tuesday night.

This time it wasn't a brave defeat to Barcelona or Chelsea that accounted for their exit from Europe's elite tournament, but a limp showing against Manchester City, hardly one of Europe's top clubs, at least not yet anyway.

While in previous years the French press have been sympathetic towards PSG, realising they were either up against better opposition or that it was all part of building experience as they tried to join Europe's elite clubs.

But on Wednesday morning PSG woke to stinging criticism.

“Ghostly and beaten at City – This PSG did not deserve to go through to the semi-finals,” read one article in Le Figaro newspaper.

Another article in the same newspaper labelled the performance a “fiasco” and spoke of the “end of a cycle” with the Qatari owners facing the task of overhauling a team and perhaps a manager who have failed to make any progress in four years.

France's sports newspaper of reference L'Equipe also lamented  the lack of progress over the last four years. “Always the same thing”, read the front page of their website on Wednesday morning.

The front page of the newspaper simply said “What a fiasco!”

Other articles were titled “the immense failure” and “PSG -Powerless 4” referring to the fact they have been eliminated for  the fourth consecutive year at the same stage.

 

Many newspapers took aim at Laurent Blanc, the PSG coach after he made a surprising change to his team for the second leg, by switching to a new defensive formation that failed to pay off.

Most held the manager responsible for a “crazy and failed gamble” as Le Parisien newspaper described Blanc's team selection.

 

 

The lack of sympathy for PSG in France can be explained by the fact the club has spent millions on trying to crack the Champions League and become one of the top clubs in Europe.

But they seem as far away as ever, four years into a project that now needs a rethink.

The question now is, what does the future hold?

“The future? We have a season to finish. We have a French Cup semi-final to try to win and a League Cup final to win,” Blanc said.

“I know that doesn't have the same flavour, the same excitement as the Champions League but we owe it to ourselves to win them for the club. We are very disappointed but we will have to get over it.”

 

 

 

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FOOTBALL

OPINION: Mbappé’s title, but PSG need to breathe new life into Qatari project

After being the star of France's 2018 World Cup triumph, Kylian Mbappé has been the standout player for Paris Saint-Germain in a Ligue 1 title-winning campaign that has been slightly marred by the manner in which they limped over the line.

OPINION: Mbappé's title, but PSG need to breathe new life into Qatari project
Photos AFP

PSG finally wrapped up the title on Sunday after second-placed Lille failed to beat Toulouse, having not won any of their previous three games when the opportunity to confirm a sixth French crown in seven seasons was there.

The Qatari-owned club can still make it a domestic double, with the French Cup final to come against Rennes next weekend, yet this will not be remembered as a vintage year.

While Neymar once again went missing due to injury at the crucial point, Edinson Cavani has struggled with fitness too, and coach Thomas Tuchel has regularly lashed out at the lack of depth in his squad.

The 5-1 capitulation at Lille a week ago was the worst league result for PSG since Qatar Sports Investments bought the club in 2011, and the first time they had let in five in a league game since 2000.

A record-breaking 14-match winning run with which they started the season now seems like a long time ago, the latest Champions League failure clouding Tuchel's first campaign in charge.

Mbappé, at least, has been a constant, revelling in his status as a World Cup winner and hardly ever being rested. He only turned 20 in December, but has now won three Ligue 1 titles in a row.

Mbappé has 36 goals in 40 games this season, with 30 in the league. And, frighteningly, his team-mate Daniel Alves told RMC recently that “he doesn't realise how good he is, he can go much further”.

He is also not used to losing, and may have upset some of his teammates with his assessment of last week's defeat at Lille. “We played like beginners,” he said.

Hollow ring

To be fair, they have usually been exceptional domestically. However, the problem is that as long as they keep failing in the Champions League, domestic success for a club backed by a Gulf state will continue to ring hollow.

The title has effectively been in the bag for some time, but their season has been winding down ever since their exit against Manchester United in the last 16.

That, combined with being knocked out in the League Cup quarter-finals, means Tuchel in his first season has actually done worse than Unai Emery, his unloved predecessor.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel has actually done worse than his predecessor, Unai Emery
However, according to sports daily L'Equipe, Tuchel has agreed to extend his contract to 2021. Thoughts have already turned to the future, with new signings needed at the Parc des Princes.

The costly Neymar experiment cannot be said to have succeeded until he stays fit for the games that matter, and there will always be speculation about his future.

“We have a contract, we're not even halfway through that contract,” Neymar's father pointed out to RMC Sport.

Time for a clear-out? 

Mbappé is the one man they really cannot afford to lose, but is it time for a clear-out elsewhere?

Some of the excitement of the early part of the decade has gone, replaced with a staleness. The days of Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani and Marco Verratti are maybe ending.

Youri Djorkaeff, a World Cup winner for France and a PSG star in the 1990s, offers a frank assessment, suggesting real change is needed higher up.

“If you're not great in every compartment, from the bus driver to the girls who clean the shirts, you will go nowhere,” he told Ligue 1 Podcast, 'Le Beau Jeu'.

“Paris Saint-Germain, after many years without success, have to rebuild everything, restart from scratch, because the foundations are not good. You cannot expect to one day win the Champions League without these foundations.”

The Qatar project needs a breath of fresh air, and all eyes will be on president Nasser al-Khelaifi and sporting director Antero Henrique.

UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules remain a problem, though, with PSG said to have a hole of around 100 million euros and the need to present a balanced budget by the end of June. The next few months will be interesting.

By Andy Scott/AFP

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