PSG In Third Pot For Champions League Draw

Posted by Jonathan Johnson

Paris Saint-Germain enter Thursday's Champions League draw for the first time since 2003-04 and will take the first step on a path that the club believe will result in European success but many believe will end ultimately in disappointment. Two years ago even the most optimistic of PSG would have laughed if you told them that they would be entering this year's draw for Europe's elite competition boasting the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Ezequiel Lavezzi amongst their ranks. The lure of top level European football, a beautiful city and sporting director Leonardo's insatiable ambitions for the club have already seen the club make a big splash in European football. So what can the club really expect from this season's competition?

The club will enter the draw in Pot 3 which means that they will certainly face big-name opposition. Conversely, they will also be the biggest side in their pot and thus will be a team that everybody wants to avoid. One intriguing possibility given Malaga's presence in the competition would be that PSG get drawn alongside Manchester City and the Spaniards as well as another European giant. This would mark a litmus test of the three big European club owned by Arab investors who have all trodden the different potential paths that lie in front of clubs that get taken over by wealthy benefactors.

The Citizens have swept all before them in the Premier League after initially failing to get the project off the ground with a flurry of big-money transfer deals for players with minimal credibility (Robinho and Javier Pastore anyone?). The club are now enjoying domestic dominance and status as one of Europe's leading clubs despite limited success in Europe so far. Malaga though have gone the other way. When QSI arrived in Paris many people were asking what would happen if the club's wealthy owners just lost interest, the Andalusians are demonstrating that currently. Former Real Madrid manager Manuel Pellegrini is trying to keep the club calm whilst players and staff are jumping ship because the money has dried up. La Liga is often branded a two horse race but even Spanish journalists are surprised that the club's owners have decided to throw the towel in already.

On the pitch, before PSG play their first game they will need to address the lack of cohesion within the side. A stellar lineup including Ibrahimovic, Lavezzi, Menez, Nene and Sirigu has failed to gel and is currently a work in progress at best. Carlo Ancelotti is famed for his ability to win Europe's most coveted prize but even the most blinkered of PSG fans will know that the club are facing an uphill task to make a real impression in this year's competition.

This season marks a return to big time for the club and they should treat it as just that. Despite a poor start to the domestic campaign it is still safe to assume that PSG will secure qualification for next year's competition so this year should be one of transition, the club readjusting to being part of Europe's elite and then take that experience with them into next year's edition when they can really make a splash. Nobody should expect miracles overnight.

Alas, the average PSG fan's expectations will be a lot higher than that and nothing other than an extended run in the Champions League will be acceptable. The fans are already on cloud nine following the arrival of ‘Ibra' and co and despite the considerable Champions League experience now in the side, it will take PSG the best part of the season to get it right on the pitch and start dominating teams the way they stellar squad suggests it should domestically. That will take the best part of a year by which time the capital club's European foray could be well over.

Will it be immediate success or should fans and pundits alike look at the bigger picture and see this season as one of transition for the club? Enjoying a successful first year domestically and in Europe is a tall order. Getting past the group stages of the Champions League would be a cause for celebration and Ancelotti would be better off concentrating on league and cup success within France before placing a high priority on the Champions League. Yes, European success is “all part of the plan” but to expect it from a team that have only played three league games together is foolish. If given time, the Italian is a master tactician who will deliver success but until then everyone will have to be patient. That includes Leonardo and the club's owners...

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