Paris Saint-Germain have hit yet another European disappointment as goals from Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Serge Gnabry saw Bayern Munich advance into the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals at the expense of the underwhelming Parisians.
The Bavarians showed their quality and efficiency as they proved themselves the better-prepared team on a very important night, despite the talent of the French champions.
The 3-0 aggregate defeat presented a fifth Round of 16 exit in the last seven seasons, a devastating return for PSG in a competition that matters above all else.
Once again, it proved another campaign in which the club’s all-star forward line have failed to deliver European success as Kylian Mbappé and Lionel Messi were unable to impact proceedings at the Allianz Arena.
While the French side struggled to create, with Mbappé rendered anonymous for most of the game, that could have been all different in the opening half had Vitinha buried his golden opportunity which was sensationally cleared off the line by Matthijs de Ligt.
Having needed to beat Bayern by two goals, the home side remained resolute in their defensive third and some half-time tactical adjustments by Julian Nagelsmann helped to close the gaps. Indeed, PSG grew desperate to find second-half goals and the Germans took advantage of the spaces behind their defence to great effect.
Bayern were more incisive at the other end as a well-executed press saw the usually dependable Marco Verratti dispossessed by Leon Goretzka who squared to Choupo-Moting to tap in. The second came from a devastating counter attack to put away the French champions for good.
PSG are left wondering what might have been after crashing out of Europe’s premier cup competition.
Christophe Galtier switched to a back five for this second leg which reduced the potency of Bayern’s attacks in the first half. However, that was compensated by them failing to create enough chances to overturn a 1-0 deficit.
The absence of Neymar for the rest of the season due to an ankle injury naturally limited their attacking prospects on the night but it arguably ensured greater balance to the side as Galtier set up a 3-5-2 to beef up the numbers in midfield, and ensure more solidity throughout.
In the end, a system which was supposed to bring the best out of the front two of Mbappé and Lionel Messi was nullified as the German champions had been clearly instructed to cut out the supply and swarm the superstar forwards whenever they got the ball.
While Plan A struggled, there was little quality to call upon elsewhere in the PSG squad in a bid to change the game.
Although they hadn’t been helped by captain Marquinhos’ first half injury which saw an unfit Nordi Mukiele replace him and then be replaced at half-time, it was clear the French side still lack the tools to overturn adversity at the elite level.
Paris Saint-Germain have an imbalanced squad consisting of six players over 30 years old combined with several teenagers making up the numbers on their bench.
The likes of Sergio Ramos, Lionel Messi, Neymar, Marco Verratti, Danilo Pereira and Juan Bernat are all short to mid-term options while starlets like Hugo Etikité, El Chadaille Bitshiabu and Warren Zaïre-Emery represent a huge gap in pedigree and experience.
Another impending change at the top?
The PSG manager has impressively galvanized his team since taking over at the start of the season, but Galtier will be judged on their UCL fortunes as he wasn’t hired for domestic success.
The 56-year-old has now failed where many previous PSG bosses failed and it is difficult to see him remain in situ by next season.
So what next step should the club’s impatient heirarchy take?
The Parc des Princes side mandated Galtier to develop a squad filled with home-grown talent and led by their global superstars that can take over the crown of European football. While that has indeed failed at the first hurdle, they will be well-served sticking to the blueprint.
It would appear that sorting out the now unclear futures of key players such as Ramos, Messi and even Mbappé is the first logical step to developing another plan to conquer European football.