Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughCan Paris Saint-Germain really rock it with the big boys? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Can Paris Saint-Germain really rock it with the big boys? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Can Paris Saint-Germain really rock it with the big boys?

Money-bags Paris Saint Germain got off to the perfect start to their Champions League campaign last night as they dismantled Dynamo Kiev. The manner of the victory, 3-0 up before half time with goals from heavyweights Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Alex before young hot-shot Javier Pastore completed the scoring in stoppage time, sent out a statement of intent from Carlo Ancelotti’s men to the rest of Europe – that despite their iffy league form, PSG had well and truly arrived on the European stage.

But how far can PSG go? Certainly, having disposed of a dangerous looking Kiev side  with such ease, the Parisians have nothing to fear from the other two sides in the group. Porto may be perennial Champions League participants and have players of the ilk of Tottenham target Joao Moutinho but for a side that spent €134 million plus the €35 million on Brazilian prodigy Lucas Moura arriving in January, the Portuguese champions should be easy pickings. The group’s remaining side, Dinamo Zagreb look set to be the whipping boys.

Once into the knockout stages, of course it is down to the luck of the draw but undoubtedly, PSG will be one of the teams to avoid; a simple analysis of their squad and in particular their attacking options will tell you that. Ibrahimovic is of course the focal point. The man who last night broke a record by becoming the first man to score for six different clubs in the Champions League is PSG’s headline purchase and justifiably so. The enigmatic Swede may have failed to spark at Barcelona but 144 goals in his last six seasons at Inter Milan, Barca and AC Milan, as well 6 goals in just five appearances already in France tells it’s own story. Around him, Ancelotti can call upon mercurial Argentine Ezequiel Lavezzi, who alongside Edinson Cavani struck fear into the heart of Serie A defences for Napoli, Jeremy Menez, who was one of France’s more impressive performers at Euro 2012, fans favourite Nene or last summer’s headline purchase, Javier Pastore. Kevin Gameiro, who was once one of Europe’s most sought-after forwards is the back up for Ibrahimovic. With such attacking options at their disposal, PSG will be able to cause problems to almost anyone in the Champions League, particularly if Ibrahimovic continues the form he has shown so far at the Parc des Princes.

Ancelotti’s midfield options are similarly plentiful, with Pastore able to play there as well as the prodigiously talented Italian Marco Verratti, dubbed the new Andrea Pirlo, who has made quite an impression on the PSG fans in his short time at the club. Alongside him, Thiago Motta offers some steel as well as experience as a Champions League winner with Inter Milan in 2010. Mohammed Sissoko, Mathieu Bodmer, Blaise Matuidi and Clement Chantome are all vying for the final midfield place. Whilst all are not perfect, each offers Ancelotti a different option with Sissoko and Matuidi prioritising defensive work while the French pair of Bodmer and Chantome look for a more progress passing style. Perhaps however this is where the first fault lines in PSG’s challenge for the European title appears. Their midfield undoubtedly offers a myriad of options and in the likes of Pastore and Verratti, exceptional potential. However, it can be argued that there is no true world class midfield player present at the club at the moment, be it in the form of a defensive holding midfielder or an attacking playmaker.

Defensively, much has been made of the signing of Thiago Silva and it must be said that in the Brazilian, the Parisians have arguably picked up the best defender in the world at present. However, it is defensively where Ancelotti will have most concerns. The exceptional Silva will be partnered by either Alex, Mamadou Sakho or Uruguay captain Diego Lugano. Alex may be a fans favourite due to his ability to score goals but at the age of 30 is slowing somewhat and may be found wanting at the highest European level. Ex-captain Sakho was once seen as a defender of huge potential but has fallen out of form and favour since Ancelotti’s arrival while Lugano, though full of commitment and endeavour, has failed to find his form since signing last summer. The full backs see similar problems: Gregory van der Wiel and Maxwell may catch the eye going forward but have been exposed defensively at their previous clubs and for the Dutchman in particular, for his country at Euro 2012. Elsewhere, current captain Christian Jallet may have had an impressive few months but is he really good enough to be part of a Champions League winning team?

Fundamentally, the quality of PSG’s players, particularly in the attacking third make them a threat to the trophy if given the right draw. Indeed, the presence of Carlo Ancelotti with his Champions League winning experience will also be of assistance. However, a lack of true world-class quality in midfield and defensive positions perhaps indicates that a little more work is done before the Parisians can truly challenge. Ancelotti and the fans will take heart from Chelsea’s unlikely success last season however, which showed that the best players are not always required to win tournaments.

Adam Mazrani

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