There are some things in life that are quite reassuring, and restore your faith in the idea that money can’t buy you absolutely anything.
And the thing that PSG can’t buy is reliable performances in the Champions League knockout rounds.
The Parisian giants have been eliminated in the second round in each of the last three seasons, before which they lost in three consecutive quarter-finals. Not the ideal record for a club with more money than God, who domestically have been able to purchase pretty much anything they like, since Qatar Sports Investments took over in 2011.
The popular theory for their relative lack of success in Europe is that Ligue 1 is such a breeze for them that they spend most of their time playing in an entirely uncompetitive division, so when a real test does actually come around they are not battle hardened enough.
On this week’s European edition of the Totally Football Show, Julien Laurens had another theory: they’re cursed, some malignant force or karma damning them to constant Champions League disappointment.
And, as he runs down the long list of varied calamities that have befallen PSG in recent seasons, you can start to see his point.
“It’s pretty incredible. If you go back to 2013, they drew 2-2 with Barcelona at the Parc des Princes in the first-leg of the quarter-finals, then in the second-leg Messi is on the bench because he picked up an injury. Javier Pastore scored a goal with an Ibra assist, then you have this iconic image of Messi on the bench pulling his socks up: you know he’s going to come on, and it went pear-shaped from there. David Villa scored, 1-1, PSG out on away goals.
“The year after that, against Chelsea – a great 3-1 win at home, second-leg at Stamford Bridge, they drop deeper and deeper and deeper, and in the 87th minute Demba Ba of all people scores off his shin.
“The year after that, it was the David Luiz hamstring injury and he goes and gets horse blood treatment, then he was humiliated by Luis Suarez and Barca destroyed then.”
There’s a pause at this point, as Julien recalls the most wounding defeat: “Then there was the remontada,” he says, glossing over that night in the Nou Camp when PSG somehow managed to lose after winning the first leg 4-0, and being 5-3 up on aggregate with the away goal advantage in the 88th minute of the second leg.
But there’s more: “We also had Neymar being injured in the last two seasons, that incredible game against Manchester United [last season, when Marcus Rashford put United through with a late penalty], and the game against Manchester City in 2016 where Laurent Blanc thought he was Pep Guardiola and started doing some crappy tactics.”
So how to explain it?
“I just think it’s in our DNA. I think there’s a curse there somewhere, and Wednesday won’t change that. Ever since Qatar took over, there’s always something dramatic happening on those Champions League nights.”
If it’s any consolation Julien, the rest of us find these assorted calamities quite entertaining.
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