Paris Saint Germain: Searching for European identity, Time-and-Again!
Written by: Sourav Neogi
With the European season finished Khel Now takes a look at all the ups and downs Paris Saint-Germain faced in 2016-2017 in this edition of Season Review...
A managerial change at the helm, Paris Saint-Germain started their season with high expectations on newly appointed manager Unai Emery. The former Sevilla boss was brought in for his expertise in continental competition, however, the Spaniard saw his team surrender a 4-goal lead to A rampant Barcelona leading to a Round of 16 exit in the UEFA Champions League.
Nevertheless, the Parisians prevailed in the domestic cups, winning both Coupe De France and Coupe De La Ligue but came second in the title race behind a young Monaco side. With a more stable squad now and more players incoming in this transfer window, things are looking much brighter for the Paris giants for the season to come.
|Season 2016-17 Stats|
Having been successful in the domestic tournaments in the season before, the Paris-based club concentrated on continental success as they picked up high profile signings such as Julian Draxler, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Jese, Hatem Ben Arfa and others early. They also focused on avoiding financial fair play sanctions by selling a young prospect in Lucas Digne to FC Barcelona in the process.
The Paris iants started their pre-season tour by playing a friendly game against English side West Bromwich Albion. Later, they participated in the International Champions Cup in the United States of America, defeating the likes of Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Leicester City.
The Parisians could not hold onto their impressive league run of the previous season in the 2016-17 campaign, where they finished second following AS Monaco to the top. The then French champions were subject to a managerial change at the helm as former Sevilla boss Emery took charge of the team at Parc des Princes at the beginning of the season. Under the management of Emery, the defending champions won 27 games, compared to Monaco’s 30-game winning haul which damaged their title chances, seeing Monaco win the 2016-17 Ligue 1 campaign without much competition.
Their first defeat came at the hands of future champions AS Monaco on 28th August when Paris lost the match 3-1. They went on to experience four more defeats, all of which were delivered to them in important away matches.
|Coupe de France|
Paris Saint-Germain had a successful outing in the Coupe de France as they won the prestigious domestic trophy for a record 11th time in the tournament’s history. Their impressive run in the tournament saw them scoring 23 goals while conceding none. The Parisians' most important win in the tournament came when they defeated AS Monaco in the semi-final with a whopping score of 5-0, securing a birth to the Final where they defeated Angers with a single goal.
Their journey to the final saw the Paris giants thrash Bastia, Rennes, Niort and Avranches.
Coupa de La Ligue
The Paris-based club also displayed a magnificent performance in the 23rd edition of the French Coupe de La Ligue and won the tournament in the process. Being the defending champions of the tournament, the Paris-based side were subject to a direct entry in the Round of 16 where they defeated Lille 3-1 and secured a place in the quarter-finals. They defeated Metz and Bordeaux in the quarterfinal and semi-final respectively before progressing to the Final where the defeated AS Monaco 1-4 and successfully defended the third most prestigious trophy in the country.
Edinson Cavani emerged as the top scorer of the tournament with four goals and helped the French giants win the trophy for the seventh time in their history.
UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE
The Paris-based club did not start their journey in the Champions League as planned. The Parisians drew against Arsenal in the group stages, which forced them to a second-place finish in Group A. Later, they went on to meet Spanish giants Barcelona in the round of 16 where they defeated the Blaugrana 4-0 at home but were thrashed 6-1 away, which ensured they getting knocked out from the tournament.
|Top 3 Players|
|Edison Cavani||Marco Veratti||Presnel Kimpembe|
After the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Manchester United, the Uruguayan international stepped up and filled in the Swede’s boots in an excellent manner. Cavani has scored 30+ goals for the Parisians this season, helping Emery’s men to win two trophies, the Coupe de France and Coupe de La Ligue. The 30-year old displayed a formidable performance against domestic giants such as Monaco and Lyon as well as European sides such as Barcelona. With a managerial change at the helm at the beginning of the last season, Paris needed a goalscorer in top form and Cavani ensured they were never short of goals.
The 24-year old Italian midfielder has been one of the crown jewels of Paris Saint-Germain since he joined the club in 2012. Verratti, who was not in his usual self this season, was still a pioneer in Paris Saint Germain’s season, where he helped his team to defeat several domestic giants such as Monaco and Lyon. Verratti ran matches from the midfield, distributing key passes as well as going on forward runs.
An academy graduate of Paris Saint-Germain, Kimpembe made the most of his chances this season for the Parisians. The 21-year old defender was one of the few reasons Paris kept the most clean sheets in the league as well as other domestic tournaments. His performances led to praise from notable football pundits as well as his manager, Unai Emery and he was rewarded with a new contract and regular playing time in which he matured more than he was expected to.
|Flop of the Season|
A Real Madrid academy graduate, Jese left the Los Blancos in order to join French giants Paris Saint-Germain in 2016. However, his dubious performances led the club to loan him back to Spain, to Las Palmas where he failed to revive his performances. In his time in Paris, Jese started just nine Ligue 1 appearances with PSG, only one as a start. He scored only three goals at the club before being loaned out to Las Palmas in January 2017.
|Top 5 Matches|
1. Paris Saint Germain 4-0 Barcelona in UEFA Champions League (15.02.2017)
2. Lyon 1-2 Paris Saint Germain in Ligue 1 (27.11.2016)
3. Angers 0-1 Paris Saint Germain in Coupe De France final (28.05.2017)
4. Monaco 1-4 Paris Saint Germain in Coupe De La Ligue final (02.04.2017)
5. Marseille 1-5 Paris Saint Germain in Ligue 1 (26.02.2017)
|Manager's Report Card|
With high expectations, Paris appointed Unai Emery to have a significant change in their approach in Europe. Emery, who is considered as a tactical great of the modern times, had a successful European trophy hunt with Sevilla FC previously and was expected to lead Paris to similar success in Europe.
However, despite all his expertise, the former Sevilla boss failed to replicate his performance with the Paris giants, much of which was down to the lack of depth of the team and new transfers not of his own.
Emery failed to win the domestic league, where they came in second following a young and more qualitative Monaco side. His tactics, which brought out the best in Edinson Cavani, failed to have a similar outcome on Blaise Matuidi and Marco Verratti, the powerhouse duo of Paris. Add to that, the fact that Emery missed out on David Luiz’s expertise and leadership qualities both on and off the pitch led the Paris defence to concede goals in important matches i.e. against Barcelona at Camp Nou. The manager also could not discipline his players properly, which led to Serge Aurier’s ban on entering the United Kingdom to face Arsenal, a draw which resulted in the Paris-based club coming in second in their group in the UEFA Champions League.
Although Emery could not win the Champions League or Ligue 1, he managed to win two of the domestic trophies and is on the verge of winning another, that too with a team not much of his own. With an exciting summer ahead, it is now time to see how he does in his second season with Paris Saint-Germain and his own transfer targets this season.
|What They Need|
The Parisians had some ups and downs throughout their first season under Emery. With some exciting names mongering around Parc des Princes, they should have the ability to come back, stronger than ever.
What the Blues need to concentrate mostly on in the coming season, is signing a top winger who can score goals as well as compliment Cavani upfront. Their existing wingers, Angel di Maria and Lucas Moura, both have been major disappointments this season with inconsistent performances. Julian Draxler, on the other hand, was a good signing for the Parisians, who adapted to Emery’s system quickly and the result was nothing but positive for the world to see. With the requirement, Alexis Sanchez could be the missing piece of the puzzle in the Paris squad, however, it is uncertain if the transfer will go through.
Paris also need to clear out deadwood such as Jese, Krychowiak and Ben Arfa and bring in fresh blood to have a competition for starting places in the team in the season to come.
Published: Thu Jun 22, 2017 04:25 PM IST