It could only happen to PSG / C1 / Gr. H / Juventus-PSG (1-2) /

If it concluded its group stage with a victory in Turin (2-1), Paris Saint-Germain was caught up in its DNA to finally be overtaken by Benfica. But not only.

On November 3, Paris wakes up with a slight headache. Strange, while on paper, all the lights are green. In Turin, in the lair of Juventus, the capital club gleaned a second success in two games against the Italians and thus concluded a European campaign being undefeated (four wins, two draws). Undefeated, PSG is still in all competitions since the start of the season. In accounting terms, there too, there would be something to smile about at first sight: the Messi-Neymar-Mbappé trio is wreaking havoc, Paris is first in Ligue 1 and qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League. Apart from the sporting plan, its popularity throughout the world continues to grow. Evidenced by the almost irrational waiting in the streets of the Piedmontese city, in recent days, where hundreds of young Turinese (and Parisians) were crane footing in front of the Principi di Piemonte hotel to snap the stars of the French team. . Yes, but as in all the too beautiful stories that we like to tell, there is always a “but” which calls for a return to Earth.

Not just bad luck

It’s not easy to introduce yourself, at 11:30 p.m., to the press and to answer a question: Paris won in Turin, where it has never won before in its history, and yet it is finally overtaken by Benfica on away goal difference (9 v 6). How could this have happened? “I’m going to put the question back to you: if we had told you that we were going to win today 2-1 at Juve, did you think we were going to finish second? Here, there were few probabilities, but these are also details in the Champions League. And I repeat it once again: we took a goal from a set piece against Juve, a penalty that we could have avoided against Benfica and two goals from set pieces against Haifa. From then on, this is one of the areas for improvement on which we will work a lot. We have already worked on it in recent days, but it is an axis. » Beyond the playful posture, Galtier gives there tangible elements of the Parisian disappointment of not finishing first.

If it was obviously unlucky to end up with the other only team in the top 5 undefeated since the start of the season, the Parisian porosity did indeed have its effect on the final fate of PSG. Unlike his Lisbon rival, the reigning French champion has not managed any clean sheet so far in C1. In Ligue 1, there have only been six in thirteen days. Whose fault is it ? Just about everyone. Despite the confidence of the staff, Gigio Donnarumma blows hot and cold. His defense is not free from criticism either, with some executives struggling to string together good performances with continuity.


But it’s not just behind that it’s urgent. This Wednesday evening, Juve put his nose to some of his flaws, as well as a problem that promises to be difficult to solve: what to do when his opponent takes over in the middle? Not from a technical point of view, but in the impact, in the intensity, where PSG has often moved in the past? Once again in this 2022-2023 odyssey, Paris took a beating in Haifa, in Lisbon, and therefore once again on this November day when Nicolò Fagioli (21), Fabio Miretti (19) and Manuel Locatelli (24 years) – well helped by Adrien Rabiot -, returned Marco Verratti and consorts. Galtier conceded after the game: “We lacked a lot of mobility inside the game. (…) We should have played faster to avoid letting them replace themselves. We took too long when the ball was out of goal, it favored them. We had to play long, and we don’t really have a fixation point, even more so when Fabian came out, because he is one, very high. »

Finally, the activity of the attackers still raises questions. If their efficiency is undeniable and impressive, their dependence (78% of the team’s goals scored between them) is as surprising as it is worrying. The trio is often unhooked from the rest of the team, almost independently, and that does not pass as it stands against formations of another caliber in C1. Mbappé’s goal against the Bianconeri is an illustration of this: if it is a strength to be able to strike like that at any time, it is just as worrying to see that it is the only dangerous combination over 90 minutes of the French genius. Not everything is to be thrown away, far from it, but there is still work to be done, and Galtier knows it. It now remains to be seen how Paris will be eaten in the spring, at the end of a World Cup which will not spare its executives. That, too, fits well with his DNA.

And in the end, it’s the extra time that wins

By Andrea Chazy, in Turin