Morning Editorial: Paris Saint-Germain Finally Look Ready For Champions League Glory
It’s not often you can hear a pin drop at Celtic Park on a Champions League night, but by the time Edinson Cavani stooped low to score Paris Saint-Germain’s fifth goal in a 5-0 win last night, only the noise of the French team’s travelling fans could be heard. Thousands of Scots were streaming from the stands, out into the pouring rain, in dumbfounded silence.
Qatar Sports Investments, PSG’s owners, have not committed more than a billion dollars to the club (including somewhere in the region of £450 million on two players, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe this summer alone) simply to beat the champions of Scotland. But winning in the manner that they did, at a ground where the likes of Barcelona and Milan have fallen, is an encouraging sign of things to come.
Adrien Rabiot and Marco Verratti controlled the midfield all evening with their silky, one touch football, while the front three of Neymar, Mbappe and Cavani all found themselves on the scoresheet again. When you can bring the likes of Julian Draxler, Lucas and Gionvani Lo Celsco off the bench – you know you’re well off in attacking options.
Routing Celtic does not begin to repay the investment. Just as winning the French championship has become an expectation, rather than an achievement, victory in the Champions League — the yardstick by which all of soccer’s nouveaux riches gauge themselves — has become the new imperative. That’s why Neymar and Mbappé have been brought to Paris — not merely to swat aside some of the competition’s relative minnows in the group stages. Glory, and vindication, lie much farther down the road.
Far greater, tougher challenges await if PSG are to to end up where they want to go; and their next Champions League test, Bayern Munich in Paris, will be a better indicator of its prospects. But that does not mean this silencing of Celtic Park was entirely without significance, or that it can be written off as a meaningless mismatch, a heavyweight pummeling a fly. This is simply just the beginning for Unai Emery’s men.