Okay, so Paris Saint-Germain will win Ligue 1. That’s pretty much decided already, right?
As for the Champions League – the one they so desperately crave – we can safely conclude, from their league performances thus far, that they’re still quite a way off.
Domestically, Mauricio Pochettino’s side holds a 13-point lead in France. But while that may sound like utter domination and world class football, their significant supremacy has been built all too heavily on individual performers snatching results.
That won’t cut it when facing behemoths in the latter staged of Europe’s elite club competition.
The tendency to rely on moments of magic from one of their star-studded squad has become all too regular. Those little moments are what maintain the colossal gap between themselves and the chasing pack in Ligue 1 and, quite frankly, that reliance makes them a worse team – by definition.
It feels as though the Parisians are further away from Champions League glory than they have been for years, despite having acquired the services of such proven winners and mentality giants in the summer transfer window.
On Saturday night, as PSG bitterly underwhelmed on a cold night in northern France, it was a morsel of clinical class from Kylian Mbappe that created the moment from which they were able to unjustly salvage a 1-1 draw at high-flying Lens.
Throughout the 90 minutes, there was only one side providing intensity to proceedings, only one side striving to inject dynamism into the final third and unsettle their opposition, and only one side that thoroughly deserved to taste victory – it wasn’t the club with limitless resources.
Lionel Messi, Achraf Hakimi and Marco Verratti were the only PSG players showing any endeavour to put on a show. The trio demonstrated drive, desire and sharp creativity throughout, but their effectiveness was severely limited by the shamefully flat collective they called their colleagues.
Angel Di Maria was criminally wasteful, Mauro Icardi was virtually non-existent, Juan Bernat failed to replicate his fellow full-back’s zestfulness and the midfield duo of Leandro Paredes and Danilo – while they were always willing to put their bodies on the line – were constantly overwhelmed by the intensity and passion of their opposition.
PSG deserved to find themselves 1-0 down – quite aptly, courtesy of a woeful goalkeeping error – through Seko Fofana’s long-range strike on the hour mark.
It took until the 70th minute and Mbappe’s introduction to stir things up. With his first touch, the Frenchman forced Jean-Louis Leca into a sharp stop, before thereafter pulling the Lens back line around with imaginative movement, testing their resolve with direct dribbling and making things happen with the creativity he’s shown so often this campaign.
The 22-year-old’s pressure eventually told when he picked the ball up on the left-hand side, picked his spot in the box and delivered a perfect delivery for fellow substitute Georginio Wijnaldum to nod in as the clock hit the 90-minute mark.
The quality on paper eventually told and the stars got their way – but, while that outing was sufficient to earn a point in Ligue 1, it was pitiful and is testament to just how far a stretch continental glory is this season.
It was a performance of a side not worthy of even gracing the Champions League knockout stages, let along lift the famous trophy comes the end of the competition.
While these kinds of showings will presumably still reward PSG with a Ligue 1 crown come the spring, they’ll have to remain very patient or make a huge change to come close to the big one.