Eleven straight league wins at the start of the season indicate how Paris Saint-Germain dominate in France. They achieved this record by beating Marseille in Le Classique on Sunday 28th October. But in European competition, they are in danger of not qualifying for the knockout phase. It falls to coach Thomas Tuchel to try to change that situation. Can PSG convert local dominance into Champions League success?
Can PSG Convert Domestic Dominance into European Success?
Marseille Did Have a Chance to Beat PSG
The regional Provence newspaper described the performance of Marseille against PSG as ‘having heart’. But they said it was not enough. It seems no French team can get close to the stars that feature in the Paris team. But on a night when passionate support was present both outside and inside the Stade Velodrome, there looked to be an opportunity for OM to gain a rare derby win, as Thomas Tuchel was without Edinson Cavani and he left Kylian Mbappe and Adrien Rabiot on the bench. OM, in their wisdom, decided to adopt a radical ‘no striker’ strategy, thus allowing Dimitri Payet, Florian Thauvin and/or Lucas Ocampos to move into the forward positions.
And for an hour, OM were well in Le Classique. Payet’s set plays and the prompting of Luiz Gustavo produced more threats than anything PSG could muster. Angel Di Maria came closest for them until the introduction of Mbappe decided the outcome. Released by the Argentinian, the young star outpaced a defender to shoot in past Steve Mandanda. He had been on the pitch a matter of a couple of minutes. That subdued the fiery atmosphere.
OM Heart is Not Enough
PSG would stay in control and seal the bragging rights with a late second. A breakaway involving Neymar (often the subject of much local abuse) and Mbappe ended with Julian Draxler easily converting from close in. Heart and the massive Marseille home support was not enough.
But Europe is a Different Story
But in Europe, it has been a different story. Against Champions League opposition, PSG have been found wanting, especially in defence. A few days earlier, they needed a fine late strike from Di Maria to get a draw at home to Napoli. And before that, Liverpool had exposed their weaknesses. Whether their undoubted superstar attack can compensate currently looks unlikely. They already, in late October, seem to have the Ligue 1 title in the bag. But Tuchel will need to solve that defensive puzzle for them to be still playing in the Champions League next year.