Great teams and great players are great for one very great reason… They know how to win. For Bayern Munich they have been serial winners not just domestically, but in Europe too, especially since the days of Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller.
PSG in many ways are the new kids on the block, dominant in ‘the farmers league’ they have (not to the taste of everyone) threw money ‘at it’ in a Manchester City kind of way and in recent years have started to reap the rewards.
In a similar fashion this Paris side bares a small resemblance to the team that won its first European trophy in 1996, the European Cup Winners Cup, in which players like Brazilian star Rai, teamed with French legends Youri Djorkaeff and Bernard Lama. PSG had previously flirted in the same competition when the likes of Weah & Ginola were fans favourite at the Parc des Princes also playing a huge part in their 1994 French League title, but until the last eight years of the clubs existence, but for a couple of league championships since their formation in 1970 it was always a team that flattered to deceive… Pleasing on the eye, often without substance.
That all changed thanks to Qatar Sports Investment and the €200m plus ground breaking record signing of Brazilian sensation Neymar.
A bold step in 2017 when the Barcelona forward made a huge statement by leaving the Nou Camp to step out of Messi’s shadow. To be the best he wasn’t prepared to play second best, instead more interested in being his own star at his own club. PSG were the perfect fit.
Since signing, Neymar has thrilled the fans in France returning 70 goals in 85 matches with many more assists on top. Frustrating and annoying for sometimes play-acting too often, you cannot deny the Brazilian has sensational skill and at his best is sublime to watch. Now aged 28, the best years of his game has seen him one match from an unprecedented quadruple. Something no side in Europe has ever done.
The final against Bayern Munich wasn’t meant to be. The Germans rode their luck and took their chance, the wall that was Neuer denying Mbappe and Neymar the biggest prize in club football.. Neymar who has won it before left crying in the dugout whilst Mbappe in his first UCL final just took it all in, head nodding in a way that he knew to accept it, learn from it, and come back better from it.
In some ways that told me a lot about the two players, both serial winners, both taking defeat in two very different ways, both disappointed, one showing every uncontrollable emotion whilst one would hold it back like a proud lion that is scarred but prepared to do battle again.
It wasn’t the night for either player who weren’t at their usual brilliant best, but that’s not to say neither had the opportunity to sink the Germans who were typically seven out of ten all over the park.
Whilst Bayern are largely a young team and one that is learning the game I can’t help feeling this is a team over its peak with the older guard Lewandowski, Neuer, Muller, Tiago all having a major effect on how the youngsters develop but all ageing towards moving on to winding down elsewhere. How long can this machine go on? Treble winners Bayern have now won eight successive German titles and with Borussia Dortmund pushing them closer each year and the rise of the Red Bull franchise too, competition is now stronger than before. I’ll be surprised if Bayern are still as dominant in another three years, by which time I seriously predict that Paris Saint-Germain will be European Champions League winners with Neymar and Mbappe very much playing a part.
Whilst today will hurt for all associated with Les Rouge et Bleu, tomorrow is destined for a new team to sit within Europe’s elite and we could now see this the start of a dynasty, of an exciting, new, well backed club in football ready to rock the world.
PSG are now widely producing some global acknowledgment but they are still yet to win Europe’s top prize, but with Mbappe already prepared to go again and Neymar hurting from coming so close, they’ll be certainly better equipped next time around and I feel their time is just about to come.
Should Tuchel and his staff stay or not really shouldn’t matter, the squad minus the departing Thiago Silva will need a slight tinker thanks to its backers, but with money spent in the right places and with the best keen to flourish in red, white and blue more than ever before, this team is really now equipped to go one better and make history. It might be next year, it may take one or two more, but one thing is for sure, Paris Saint-Germain will be European Champions before long and when they do it they’ll be one big party down the Champs-Elysees.