How Paris Saint-Germain’s European Collapse Affects the Ligue 1 Title Race

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Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Adrien Rabiot (2ndR) and team-mates stand on the pitch after Barcelona's Sergi Roberto scored his team's victory goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain FC at the Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona on March 8, 2017 (JOSEP LAGO/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

The scenes around the Camp Nou Wednesday evening are already being placed amongst the legendary moments in football, after Barcelona achieved the greatest comeback in UEFA Champions League history. Down 4-0 from the first leg, an incredible 6-1 victory over Paris Saint-Germain brought the Blaugrana entry into the tournament’s quarter-final round.

The effects of this triumph could propel Barcelona to tremendous success in finishing the 2016-17 season. But for Les Parisiens, the direction could be quite different altogether.

How Paris Saint-Germain’s European Collapse Affects the Ligue 1 Title Race

The current term was one of evolution and change in several ways for PSG, with the ambition to see their Champions League fortunes greatly improve. After four consecutive titles in the French first division, the focus was on the start of a new era.

Wednesday, however, may have been the point in which decline sets in.

Currently three points back of league leaders AS Monaco, the humiliating and deflating loss comes at a crucial time for all involved with the club. Key players within the squad must be able to keep Paris Saint-Germain focused on what still can be accomplished, specifically defending their Ligue 1 title.

Confidence and form

After such a dominant performance against Barcelona at the Parc des Princes in the first leg, it was surprising to see PSG return with such a dismal showing in Catalonia for the deciding match. The French champions appeared less than prepared and overwhelmed by the magnitude of the moment.

Luis Suarez’s early goal planted a seed of doubt in the collective mind, and PSG’s entire approach and philosophy changed. Marco Verratti, Blaise Matuidi and Adrien Rabiot all were unable to control possession and dictate play in the middle of the pitch.

Goalkeeper Kevin Trapp endured a nightmare of an evening, while his back-line did little to protect space in the final third. Striker Edinson Cavani’s sparkling play this year will only take Paris Saint-Germain so far with these types of troubles behind him in the line-up.

Key fixtures remain

With only ten league matches remaining to make up ground in the table, PSG must find a way to put Wednesday’s horrors behind them and find positive results. Encounters against Lyon, OGC Nice and Saint-Etienne will all provide a stern test.

Emery’s side face Monaco in the Coupe de la Ligue final at the start of April, as well as travel to US Avranches in the Coupe de France quarter-final round three days later.

Domestic matches are becoming congested, and the dreary feelings that linger from their failure at Barcelona could have a major impact for Paris Saint-Germain’s title chances.

Unai Emery’s future

After successful league campaigns but disappointment in the UEFA Champions League, manager Laurent Blanc left the French capital this past summer. PSG hired former Sevilla boss Unai Emery to lead the club, along with the expectation of increased success in Europe.

But now, with that objective lost in the most surreal of fashions and second to Monaco in Ligue 1, there is an immense amount of pressure on the Spanish tactician to bring a league title. The departures of players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, David Luiz and Lucas Digne certainly represented change, but the quality was still within the team for success.

No manager has ever had to respond to what took place at the Camp Nou on Wednesday. But that task begins for Unai Emery this coming Sunday at Lorient with the weight of Paris on his team’s shoulders.

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