High-flying French giants Paris Saint Germain will begin another quest for their maiden UEFA Champions League title as they prepare to host Italian heavyweights Juventus at the Parc des Princes in Paris on Tuesday night. Surprisingly, these two European giants have not faced each other in a competitive match since Juventus ran out 9-2 aggregate winners in the 1996 UEFA Super Cup.
A lot has changed since the 90s and 00s for PSG, of course, who are now one of the most dominant teams on the planet following their takeover by Qatar Sports Investments in 2011. A plethora of star signings such as Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Marco Verratti, Sergio Ramos, Marquinhos, and Achraf Hakimi have not only improved their stead and image amongst the elite in Europe but have also made them extremely competitive on the pitch, to the point where they have dominated each and every team in France over the last decade.
However, success in Europe, has continued to elude them as PSG are still desperately searching for their first Champions League trophy. Their 1-0 final defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich in the final of the 2020 UEFA Champions League is still the closest they have come to lifting the famous trophy.
Last season, much like Chelsea and Manchester City, Paris Saint Germain also suffered an inexplicable fate in the competition. They were 2-0 ahead in the Round of 16 tie against Real Madrid with only half an hour remaining at the Santiago Bernabeu.
However, PSG suffered a complete collapse on the pitch and this allowed Karim Benzema to capitalize on the opportunity. The French striker scored a quick-fire hattrick to turn the tie on its head and knock the Parisians out of the competition in humiliating fashion once again.
That defeat virtually sealed the fate of former manager Mauricio Pochettino who was sacked this summer. Christophe Galtier, his successor has done a fine job so far and PSG look a more balanced and revitalized outfit under the former Lille boss. Having switched to a 3-5-2 formation during the early stages of his tenure, the results have also gone their way and they have secured five wins and a draw to climb to the top of the table in Ligue 1.
PSG also defeated Nantes 3-0 away from home at the weekend with Kylian Mbappe grabbing a brace while Nuno Mendes also got on the scoresheet.
As has been the case with most PSG managers since Unai Emery, Galtier will also be judged and scrutinised on the basis of how the club fares in Europe’s biggest continental competition. PSG have been drawn alongside Juventus, Benfica, and Maccabi Haifa in Group H of the Champions League and qualification from the group stages is expected to be an easy affair given their calibre.
However, the knockout rounds are where Galtier’s methods and his men will truly be tested. With that being said, the Parisians will hope to begin as they mean to go on with a resounding win over Juventus.
Juventus, on the other hand, have won the European Cup twice in their history. However, they too, are familiar with failure, having lost seven finals and the Old Lady of Turin are a shadow of their former selves these days, having conceded their dominance in Italy to Milan and Inter once again.
Since losing in the final to Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid in 2015 and 2017 respectively, the Turin-based side have not progressed beyond the quarter-finals of the Champions League, disappointingly losing to Lyon, Benfica and Villarreal at the last-16 stage in each of the last three seasons.
As a result, expectations surrounding the Bianconeri are much lower these days as they haven’t won the Scudetto since 2020. The two Milan giants have stolen ahead in the race for Italian dominance and Juventus have been left with plenty of catching up to do under long-time serving manager Massimiliano Allegri.
Despite constant criticism surrounding his methods and conservative approach, Juventus are unbeaten in Serie A 2022/23 after the first five matches. However, they have drawn as many as three games which has allowed AC Milan and Napoli to claim the top spot in the league. Juve’s backline continues to be their primary strength and they have conceded only two goals across those stalemates which clearly indicates a solid platform to build on.
The might of the Bianconeri defence will be tested to its limit when they face a free-scoring PSG frontline led by the brilliance of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar and assisted by the magnificent Lionel Messi from just behind. If they end up losing their bearings, Juventus might just be in for a humiliation in Paris on Tuesday night.
PSG vs JUV, UEFA Champions League 2022/23
Date: 7th September, 2022
Time: 12:30 AM IST
Venue: Parc des Princes, Paris
Paris Saint Germain form (all competitions):
Juventus form (all competitions):
- W-D-D-W- D
Paris Saint Germain wins: 0
Juventus wins: 0
Paris Saint Germain Team News:
Paris Saint Germain nearly have a fully fit squad at their disposal with Julian Draxler and Timothee Pembele being the only injury concerns at the moment, with both of them struggling with knee problems.
Sergio Ramos, Neymar, Nuno Mendes and Renato Sanches all came off the bench against Nantes over the weekend and manager Galtier is expected to reinstate all of them to the starting XI against Juventus. As a result, Danilo Pereira, Pablo Sarabia, Juan Bernat, and Vitinha might be relegated to the bench instead.
Gianluigi Donnarumma has been receiving the nod ahead of Keylor Navas in goal so far this season, but the Italian stopper may be denied the opportunity of facing his former rivals in order to provide Navas with important game-time as the club’s cup goalkeeper.
Juventus Team News:
Juventus, meanwhile, are struggling from a host of injury issues and are likely to make the trip to Paris without several important players like Paul Pogba, Adrien Rabiot, Wojciech Szczesny, Marley Ake, Kaio Jorge and Federico Chiesa.
Mattia Perin is expected to deputise for Szczesny in goal as the former Arsenal shot-stopper continues to recover from a sprained ankle, while veteran defender Leonardo Bonucci could return to the side in order to provide experience at centre-back, with Danilo shifting to right-back instead.
Angel di Maria was substituted at half-time of his side’s 1-1 draw away to Fiorentina at the weekend, which could result in him having to miss Tuesday’s clash against his former club.
Juan Cuadrado would likely move higher up the pitch in order to provide more defensive stability on that side, with Dusan Vlahovic set to replace Arkadiusz Milik up front despite the Pole opening the scoring on Saturday.
Paris Saint Germain possible starting lineup:
Navas; Ramos, Marquinhos, Kimpembe; Hakimi, Sanches, Verratti, Bernat; Messi, Mbappe, Neymar
Juventus possible starting lineup:
Perin; Danilo, Bonucci, Bremer, Sandro; Locatelli, Paredes, McKennie; Cuadrado, Vlahovic, Kostic
Paris Saint Germain have way too much quality and resources all over the pitch to be threatened by Juventus. The visitors are also missing several key players due to injuries and are likely to be put under the cosh in Paris.
With Neymar, Mbappe, and Messi scoring and assisting goals for fun, Juventus’ primary target will be to ensure that they try to reduce the surge on their goal as much as possible. The likes of Bonucci, Bremer, and Perin have a mighty task on their hands.
All in all, the Parisians are expected to emerge as the comfortable winners in this contest and begin their UEFA Champions League campaign on a strong note.