“The usual shortcomings of PSG, this team that no reshuffle transforms, have made their comeback”

NOTe are January 30, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) is up against the wall and in a dead end. His wall: the Champions League. His impasse: the improbable strategy of fielding a balanced team with its superstars.

When, after a draw (1-1) conceded at home against Reims, Sunday January 29, coach Christophe Galtier lambasted a “crisis of sufficiency”, he identifies the problem, but is mistaken in charge, who are less his players than his leaders. The latter have indeed persisted in a casting policy that is very effective for the growth of marketing revenues but has repeatedly been defeated in the field.

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You had to be candid and amnesic to believe President Nasser Al-Khelaïfi when he assured, in June 2022, that it was “the end of the sequins”, echoing his own previous statements, of identical content, in 2016 and 2019, which were just as futile. It also took a good dose of optimism to see PSG’s start to the season as a sign that this change was at work. The illusion was seductive, with a particularly determined Neymar Jr ahead of the World Cup, and a Messi back in favor after a mediocre 2021-2022 season.

A tactical scheme in 7-3

In the aftermath of the globalist truce, the usual flaws of this team that no reshuffle does not transform have made their return. Collective inconsistency, lack of commitment and mental resources, game without ideas, struggling recruits (Soler, Ruiz, Vitinha), etc. The interest of tour in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, mid-January, seems very nebulous in this context.

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This team becomes easy to take, as summed up by Reims captain Yunis Abdelhamid on Sunday : “In the ball exits, it was easy, the front three do not defend. We knew that from the moment we pass this first curtain (…) they no longer participate in defensive tasks. We worked on that. »

Once again, in a tactical scheme ironically designated as a 7-3, the attacking trio Messi-Neymar-Mbappé sometimes proves to be powerless, and always a factor of defensive fragility. Against Reims, Paris only fired twelve shots, including four on target.

What hopes does this device leave in the Champions League, the competition in which the club plays its season each year and has a chain of disappointments? After two defeats and a draw in 2023, for a victory (against Angers, Ligue 1 red lantern), PSG are still at the top of the French championship, but, followed by a three-point RC Lens, they lost his autumn assurances.

Unlike his predecessor Mauricio Pochettino, who remained locked in solid denial (at least publicly), Christophe Galtier posed the problem on the locker room table, evoking his wish to “recreating competition” to get out of a ” comfort zone “. The whole difficulty is to achieve this, when his attacking trio persists in defensive passivity and remains statutorily irremovable. Sunday evening, only Neymar – not the least deserving of the three stars – was replaced, at 85e minute.

Consumed Coaches

To repeal the privileges of these “geniuses” capable of “making the difference on their own”, according to a tenacious myth, tactical changes will not be enough, any more than the reinforcements envisaged – it is to subscribe to the chimera of the transfer window as a panacea to difficulties… which result from previous transfer windows, preferred to the development of a sports project.

Rather, a revolution in Parisian governance is needed. “The president of PSG asks sports management to correct their own mistakes, to demand that stars do not behave as such”wrote the author of these lines in August 2022, fearing that Christophe Galtier does not have the status required to gain the upper hand over his group.

PSG probably lacks a superstar coach himself, the stuff of Pep Guardiola. Otherwise, the Parisian technicians, one after the other, act as culprits after having been consumed by the difficult exercise of their function. Who could be a good coach there?with such a roadmap?

At this stage and at the start of a program that will see him play five games in two weeks, the first Wednesday 1er February in Montpellier via Marseille on the 8th, in the round of 16 of the Coupe de France, before the reception of Bayern Munich on the 14th, everything is obviously possible, including the recovery desired by Galtier.

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In the queen European competition, with its cutthroat matches, Mbappé, Neymar and Messi may meet again. It is simply permissible to doubt that the eternal Parisian ills will find a solution in such a short time.

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