There is a feeling that PSG, meanwhile, have yet to start this season, with injuries leaving them out of options. Sergio Ramos, who has yet to play since a free transfer from Real Madrid due to muscle problems, was named to the bench on Wednesday, while Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé have just started together for the seventh time. But the midfield has been weakened by the absence of Marco Verratti, who played a key role in PSG’s win over Man City earlier in the group stage, and Georginio Wijnaldum.
That means the midfield trio of Idrissa Gana Gueye, Leandro Paredes and Ander Herrera, with a deep role and defending the defence, will leave a long gap until the top three (Herrera himself was subsequently injured. hamstring injury, replaced by Danilo). And that, of course, is indicative of PSG’s biggest problem: Welcoming the three-star striker means major compromises elsewhere. It may be an easier trick against a team that likes to dominate possession like Man City, but the points lost against Club Brugge and RB Leipzig show how difficult it can be when A more proactive approach is required.
In the second leg in Paris, when Man City had a bad match, PSG counter-attacked extremely effectively and won with a score of 2-0. Although it comfortably lost on all expected goals, the feeling of the game was that it was still in control once it took the lead. Preventing other teams from going against City has become a growing obsession for Guardiola, and this first meeting may have explained his team selection, with Oleksandr Zinchenko being included in the line-up. midfield alongside Rodri and İlkay Gündoğan, and one of three debuts for Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling.
PSG have long been the dominant force of French football, winning eight of the last 10 Ligue 1 titles, but they have yet to transfer the domestic success to the European arena.
After reaching the semi-finals last season, the club embarked on a series of summer signings in the hope of making it to the end of the season.
In addition to the signings of Sergio Ramos, Achraf Hakimi, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georginio Wijnaldum and Nuno Mendes, PSG also secured the biggest transfer of all time – buying Lionel Messi from FC Barcelona.
Messi is part of the most feared top trio in modern football history, starting with Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.
Getting Messi, Neymar and Mbappe to change their defences in addition to shining in the final third would be key if that happens, but based on Wednesday’s performance this is unlikely.
France legend Thierry Henry said: “If you want to win the Champions League, you cannot defend with seven players.
“It is impossible, I don’t care who you are.”
The paradox that having a lot of great strikers means playing defensively is unavoidable at a club like PSG, which prioritizes signing stars over team building. But this is not the football that Pochettino played at Espanyol, Southampton or Tottenham. There he built more aspects than the sum of its parts and built a coherent system.