PSG v Chelsea: Paris St Germain aim for statement Champions League victory to convert their cash into credibility


For almost a year, they have been waiting in Paris for another night like this. Joining the elite of European football is difficult but winning a Champions League quarter-final against a current member is a good way to go about it. This time last year Paris Saint-Germain almost knocked out Barcelona. Against Chelsea they have an even better chance.

Ever since Qatar Sports Investments bought PSG in 2011 they have been pursuing one of the oldest challenges in sport: converting money into credibility. The main means of doing this is the Champions League. PSG are not going to do much for the global brand of Qatar simply by winning Ligue 1 for the next 10 years, as Uefa president Michel Platini has predicted they will.

PSG are not embarrassed about their ambitions. "In five years' time we want to be one of the best clubs in Europe," president Nasser al-Khelaifi said recently, "and to win the Champions League."


Ezequiel Lavezzi, PSG's Argentine winger, claimed this week that "this is our time", although even victory in this tie would not necessarily make them favourites for the trophy. There are better teams and this is only PSG's second year among the elite.

Chelsea know better than anyone how elusive the Champions League trophy is. It was in the ninth year and under the eighth manager of Roman Abramovich's ownership that they finally won it, and even then under extremely unlikely circumstances. Manchester City, approaching the sixth anniversary of their takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group, have not reached a quarter-final yet.

The PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, speaking in Paris, admired Chelsea for their progress. "Experience is an advantage, and Chelsea have more experience than PSG in the Champions League," he said. "We are in a situation today where Chelsea were eight or nine years ago, when the club owner took over and put in big investment, just as PSG are doing."

But what Ibrahimovic has seen so far – and what lured him from Milan to Paris in the first place – gives him confidence for the future.

"I've seen big changes in the two years, developments on and off the field that I haven't seen elsewhere," he said. "The people behind this project aren't aiming low or medium. These people aim more than high."

Tomorrow night is a chance for PSG to show that they belong on this stage and in this company. So far this season in the Champions League they have done well, winning their group before beating Bayer Leverkusen 6-1 on aggregate in the last 16. But, as L'Equipe argued this week, "what is still missing is a resounding win".

Last year, in PSG's first meaningful meeting with a European super-club, they nearly got it. Carlo Ancelotti's side managed to fight their way off the passing carousel at the Parc des Princes, earning a 2-2 draw against Barcelona. They took the lead at the Nou Camp and with 19 minutes left were going through to the semi-finals – until Lionel Messi limped on and Pedro scored.

The tie showed the world that this is a very serious unit. "Nothing has done more for the sporting image of PSG," said L'Equipe, "than going out with honours from the Champions League last year." The challenge now is to go one better and reach the semi-finals.

There is certainly confidence in the camp that they are better equipped this time. "There is a big difference," Ibrahimovic said. "We know each other much better today than we did last year. Last year, everything was new and we played as individuals. This year it is more of a collective, and our game is better."

Blaise Matuidi, the engine of Laurent Blanc's three-man midfield, picked up on the same theme. "We have more experience, we know more and we have learnt how to play together," he told Le Parisien this week. "We have grown up and turned a corner, and now we must show it."

Blanc's PSG have been showing it all season. They have been relentless, winning their last nine games in all competitions, and are 13 points clear of highly fancied Monaco – who hope to go through this process as well – with seven games left. They should retain their league title this month.

The easiness of the domestic league might be the one thing most likely to stop them in Europe. PSG simply do not have the experience of playing competitive opposition every week and, even with Monaco's own heavy investment, it is not inevitable that their wealth will trickle down.

PSG will have to raise their game against Chelsea and it will become clear over the two legs just how good they are. But Ibrahimovic is confident that this side have levels that they have not even shown yet. "The tougher the games you play," he said, "the better you become."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders