In front of no fans, played in the echoey environment that was the Parc de Princes, PSG made a big step towards history. A 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund sent them through to the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in four years. With a star-studded team who face little competition domestically, the Champions League truly is the be-all and end-all of PSG’s season and they have finally smashed the glass ceiling that has held them back in recent times.
For Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and the rest of this richly-assembled side, every time they do not win the Champions League they are deemed failures. There have been near misses in the past, most famously the 6-1 capitulation at the Nou Camp which began this extended period of failing to reach the last eight. That night PSG’s reputation and confidence took a hammering, but this year, the competition appears to be opening up for them as they stride into the quarter-finals.
Reigning champions Liverpool were surprisingly dumped out of the competition by Atletico Madrid after Adrian’s errors and despite the strength of the Spanish side, most teams in Europe would surely rather play Atleti than Jurgen Klopp’s men in the knockout stages.
In the other round of 16 games, we saw two sides reach the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier competition for the very first time as Atalanta and RB Leipzig made past the round of sixteen. They are certainly two teams who are commanding different levels of respect across the footballing world, but both of them have got strong sides this season and they have proved they can mix it with the best.
Having said that, both sides lack that experience that is required to win these major competitions. PSG would be strong favourites if they were to come up against either of these sides in the last eight and for once, it does seem like the competition is opening up from the side from the French champions.
Whoever comes out on top between Manchester City and Real Madrid, both sides have looked vulnerable this season. City, in particular, have been way off the pace in the Premier League and now have all their eggs firmly in the Champions League basket. Elsewhere, Spanish giants Barcelona have also looked disjointed in the tournament as they host Napoli, with the Catalunyans once again relying solely upon Lionel Messi to drag them through.
The Parisians have overcome adversity to turn around this tie...
Could it be their year?
Clearly, it isn’t the worst tactic when you have the Argentine at your disposal but the rest of the side have proved time and time again in Europe they are not up to scratch in recent years. Collapses in Rome and Liverpool are a testament to that.
Bayern Munich have looked strong in their disposal of English teams this season having beaten both Tottenham and Chelsea comprehensively, although both of those sides have also had their issues this term. It will be interesting to see just how they cope when they come up against a top, in-form European side, potentially in the next round.
This season’s Champions League is a strange one, not just because of Coronavirus. The behind closed doors games have taken some of the shine off the competition but when you look at the quality of the sides left in, you have to come to the conclusion that PSG are in a seriously strong position heading into the last eight.
With Neymar and Mbappe they can score goals against any side and this is the season they can go deep into the tournament. Could the waiting game for Champions League glory finally be over in Paris?