PSG must improve if they want Champions League dream to continue
The French side won 3-2 on aggregate against Valencia, but were far from convincing
Thursday 07 March 2013
Paris Saint-Germain qualified for the quarter finals of the Champions League last night after a 1-1 draw with Valencia saw them win 3-2 on aggregate.
Holding a 2-1 advantage after the first leg, PSG were the overwhelming favourites to advance through to the last eight of the competition, but they didn't have it all their own way in the return leg at the Parc Des Princes in Paris.
Without the suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marco Verratti, the homeside lacked the quality and dynamism they possessed in the first leg, and shortly after half time, they fell behind to a wonderful Jonas Goncalves Oliveira strike from just outside the box.
PSG were rattled, and their chances of making it through to the quarter finals looked precarious. Valencia were enjoying the bulk of possession and looked like they could extend their slender advantage, but an Ezequeil Lavezzi strike with 25 minutes to go, proved the difference, and PSG advanced.
With the majority of the PSG squad inexperienced in the Champions League, manager Carlo Ancelotti turned to the likes of the Thiago Silva, Maxwell and Alex to try and safeguard the team's progression to the last eight, although former England captain David Beckham was left to watch from the bench.
Impressive in his first full debut for the Parisians against Marseille in the Coupe de France a week earlier, Beckham was demoted to the subs bench despite fellow midfielder Verratti not being available. Beckham - who remains the first player to reach 100 Champions League appearances - will no doubt have an important role to play in the last eight, especially in the absence of talisman Ibrahimovic for the first leg.
Although PSG progressed past Valencia, they will have to improve immensely if they are to make it through to the last four. Their performance against Valencia was patchy at best, and they lacked fluidity and composure. Against stronger opposition, their defensive line and porous midfield will be picked off and outclassed.
However, when you consider how hard it has been for the likes of Manchester City - who have been heavily financially backed for the last five years - to adapt to European football, to reach the last eight for the first time in 18 years is a fantastic achievement for the Qatari-owned club.
After their 1-0 defeat to 10-man Reims at the weekend, PSG's Director of Football, Leanardo, stated that: "Maybe we are not made to play in games like these. Perhaps we have a team designed more for Europe than the league."
Despite sitting top of the Ligue 1 table, PSG have been far more impressive in the Champions League than they have domestically and it is hard to argue with Leanardo's claims.
However, PSG still lack the experience and know-how to consider themselves a top quality European side.
Speaking after the match last night, Ancelotti was keen to take the pressure off his side: "We consider it a very important result for the club and for everyone. After 18 years to reach the quarter finals it is very important.
"It is not our aim to win the Champions League. Our aim is to do our best. We didn't know what we would do in the Champions League and until now we have done really well."
Ancelotti will know his side faces a battle to progress further in the competition, but in perhaps the most wide open tournament in a while, PSG have a chance to make their first semi final since 1995.
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