Could this be the year for PSG to taste Champions League glory?
For all the extravagant spending, and for all their dominance of the French Ligue 1, Paris Saint-Germain are yet to deliver the holy grail of European football – the Champions League.
Recent Champions League history hasn’t been kind to PSG
In fact, PSG’s performances in the Champions League in recent seasons have been a tale of woe. Consistent disappointments have shrouded the Paris club year after year in Europe’s premier club competition.
Of course, who could forget PSG’s capitulation at the hands of Barcelona in the 2016-17 campaign. Where the Parisians lost the second leg at the Nou Camp 6-1 after leading 4-0 from the first leg.
It’s been disappointment after disappointment for the club in the Champions League. And despite such major investment in their squad in recent seasons, the European Cup has eluded them.
But perhaps this will be the season where all that changes, as the Champions League quarter-finals loom large.
The remainder of the tournament will have a remarkably different feel to it compared to other seasons. Single-legged ties will be played from now until the final, all played in Lisbon at two neutral venues.
Only time will tell if this aspect of the competition will play into PSG’s hands. But it could prove that these slightly altered circumstances will help the team to shake off the bad memories of the tournament in its normal format.
Could the Favourable Draw help PSG end their Champions League hoodoo in 2020?
The favourable draw is also a factor going in PSG’s factor. On paper Atalanta looks a good draw, although the Italians are not to be trifled with. They have surprised plenty already this season to make it this far.
But PSG have often come up short against the giants of European football, the Barcelona match being just one example, and their defeat to Manchester United in last season’s first knockout round was perhaps evidence that the club is still finding its feet in terms of challenging the historical elite.
Victory over Borussia Dortmund back in pre-lockdown times helped to alleviate some of that tension. On that occasion there proved to be a real indomitable spirit within the team, as PSG came from 2-1 behind to win the tie 3-2 on aggregate.
In previous years, PSG have crumbled when the going has got tough. But there could just be signs that things are changing in terms of their ability to handle the big occasion.
Perhaps this will be the season where PSG prove that they can deliver on their estimation as favourites among those betting on the UEFA Champions League.
Atalanta cannot be taken lightly
The challenge will be to avoid complacency against Atalanta. Yes, the French club go into the tie as the heavy favourites. But the downside is that will bring a degree of freedom to their opposition’s mindset.
Atalanta will see this as a shot to nothing. A chance to claim a major scalp and reach the uncharted waters of the Champions League semi-finals. With the match being just a single-legged affair, the Italian club may just fancy their chances of springing a surprise and sending PSG packing.
For coach Thomas Tuchel and his players, the key will be trusting their abilities and avoiding any sense of arrogance. PSG have not reached a Champions League semi-final since the 1994-95 campaign. That’s a statistic that the team will be eager to put right this season.
With so much to play for, it’s time for PSG to prove that they really are equipped to be considered one of Europe’s great sides.