The runners up of the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League final, Paris Saint Germain, have had the worst possible start to the new French Ligue 1 season. The side from the capital of France have played five games at the time of writing, winning three and losing two. By no means is this kind of a return ordinary, but it can be deemed to be so for a side of the ilk and class of Paris Saint Germain. The side, who are managed by Thomas Tuchel, were hit by a spate of players getting infected with the novel coronavirus and that has played a major role in their new season not getting off to a good start.
Although the club had not revealed the names of the players who were infected with the virus, it was unveiled by the sports daily L’Equipe that at first defender Marquinhos, goalkeeper Keylor Navas and striker Mauro Icardi had tested positive. Later, it came to be known that attacker Neymar, winger Angel di Maria and midfielder Leandro Paredes. All these players had reportedly gone on holiday to Ibiza in Spain to unwind after their club’s narrow 0–1 defeat in the UEFA Champions League final to Bayern Munich on 23 August 2020, Sunday.
Even for a club as huge as Paris Saint Germain, this piece of news created a bit of furore, especially as their first French Ligue 1 match of the season against Lens was pushed back for these players to come back from their holiday. However, the fans of the Pas de Calais were placated when the UEFA Champions League runners up lost to them 0–1. In their next game against Marseille too, Parish Saint Germain were defeated by an identical 0–1 margin. However, since then, Tuchel’s side have won all three of their matches and whatever doubts that had been raised of their efficiency have been put to bed. Or have they, really? The objective of this article is to find out if Paris Saint German are losing their potential.
SOME REASONS WHY PARIS SAINT GERMAIN MIGHT LOSE THEIR POTENTIAL
Paris Saint Germain suffered a very big shock in the transfer window when veteran centre back and club captain Thiago Silva refused to sign a new contract with the club and moved to London club Chelsea, who are managed by Frank Lampard, as a free agent. Although he was close to being 36 years old when he was still at the Parc des Princes Stadium, there is no secret how he was revered and respected by Tuchel. There is also no doubt in the fans or other experts minds that had the Brazilian signed another extension, he would have started in the heart of the team’s defence alongside Marquinhos or Presnel Kimpembe.
The game against Marseille, in which star forward Neymar was shown a red card in the dying stages of the game, was one in which Paris Saint Germain truly did not turn up. Thilo Kehrer and Kimpembe had started in defence in that game for Tuchel’s side but somehow could not build up a good rapport among each other. This game was a true watershed with defender Layvin Kurzawa and midfielder Leandro Paredes too sent off, the men from Paris ended the evening with eight players in their ranks. However, all these distractions aside, the likes of Kehrer, Kimpembe and Marquinhos have gelled well together as can be seen from the stellar showings they have put up in defence in the recent matches played by Paris Saint Germain.
What with six players testing positive for Covid-19, life has not been easy for Tuchel’s men in the early stages of the French Ligue 1, but they can not be criticised for lack of trying. Les Parisiens have actually improved their performances as can be seen visibly by the millions of fans, spectators and pundits tuning in from across the globe.
ARE PARIS SAINT GERMAIN ACTUALLY LOSING THEIR POTENTIAL?
If I am asked to get straight to the point, then the answer would be very simple: no, I do not think that Paris Saint Germain are losing their potential. Their manager Tuchel has tried out some new combinations this season, some forced by circumstances and some to try out new faces, but overall, whoever has been called upon by the gaffer has done themselves proud at the Parc des Princes Stadium. The departure of Silva to Chelsea in the transfer window was supposed to create a big void in the heart of Paris Saint Germain’s defence, but it can be said that the young pretenders Kimpembe, Marquinhos and Kehrer have risen to the occasion well and taken up the veteran Brazilian’s mantle.
In attack too, although their star Brazilian forward Neymar has had some off field issues, the others have not made his absence felt. Youngster Kylian Mbappe has made 2 appearances and already has 1 goal and two assists to his name. If he keeps going on like this, then it remains to be seen what kind of a year he has, amid speculations of his moving to either Real Madrid or Liverpool in the next summer transfer window. As for now, manager Tuchel has squashed all such rumours and made sure that the young Frenchman’s mind is set only in Paris. Other attackers such as Eric Maxim Choupo Moting, Paulo Sarabia and Mauro Icardi are also players who can turn up with good showings when asked to do so.
It is true that Paris Saint Germain did not have a very good start to their French Ligue 1 season with defeated to Lens and Marseille, with the latter seeing a very heated exchange of words between Neymar and other players from Les Olympiens, but that has not necessarily led to their entire year being derailed.
There is still a possibility for them to come from behind from the fifth position where they are located at the moment and take a swipe at the league title, of which they are the defending champions. In my mind, there is clearly no way in which Paris Saint Germain have lost their potential to be a world class team.