Champions League: PSG

Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig meet on Tuesday for a place in the Champions League final. An outstanding duel between two clubs that are very indebted to their latest investors.

Who from Paris Saint-Germain or RB Leipzig will discover for the first time in their history the joy of a Champions League final? The two clubs have a date on Tuesday 18 August during the first semi-final of the 2019/2020 edition of C1 in Lisbon to discuss it. A top match between two teams that were determined to give themselves a name on the European stage, with the risk of closing their eyes to jealousy.

Passed under the Qatari flag since 2011 and its takeover of the sovereign fund QIA, PSG has since the stated goal of winning the Champions League. To do this, the new owners have come a long way: in 2018, it was already calculated1.4 billion euros invested. Funds that have enabled Parisians to afford the biggest stars, such as prodigy Kylian Mbappé for 180 million euros or the Brazilian Neymar, who cost the sum of 222 million euros, a still unsurpassed record.

Undisputed dominance of French football

Due to its acquisitions, PSG have shown an unfortunate superiority over hexagonal football: Since 2011, the club has won no less than 25 titles (out of 36 possible): 7 championships, 5 French cups, 6 league cups and 7 champions.

An undivided dominance that sometimes irritates … Especially the president of Olympique Lyonnais, Jean-Michel Aulas, who multiplies the criticism of what he considers a two-level championship, where clubs can not fight with a sovereign fund’s almost unlimited budget.

On the continental stage, however, money and spotty recruitment are not enough. Before 2020, Paris inevitably encountered a glass roof that prevented it from going beyond the quarterfinals. Worse is that the club that wanted to “dream bigger” experienced scandalous humiliations: the “remount” of 2017, when Barcelona won the second stage 6-1 after a 4-0 victory for the Parisians in the first stage and the elimination in 2019 of a Manchester United ” other teams “at the Parc des Princes (1-3).

So many traffic accidents that the club ended up blaming a “French context” that would punish PSG, says the sports director Leonardo. Intermediate player Ander Herrera said nothing else before the start of the “Final 8” in Lisbon:

“We are on an excellent run in Ligue 1 and at the very least the” haters “appear or the press tries to create problems to move the knife in the wound. It is therefore internal, we have a clear mentality: ‘It is us against the rest of the world ‘”, explains the Argentine. “From the outside, everyone is aware of what we are doing. The whole of France is waiting for PSG to lose, for PSG to make a mistake.”

RB Leipzig, beloved

His opponent tonight is no longer a prophet in his country. RB Leipzig was founded in 2009 and has gone on for a decade from the fifth German division to the last four of the Champions League, following the will and investment of Red Bulls and its billionaire boss, Austrian Dietrich Mateschitz. A lightning decline that has not been even in the German football world.

During its first season among the elite in 2017, RB Leipzig took the lead in November and managed to keep it for three weeks. In May, the club finished second in the Bundesliga and qualified for the Champions League for the first time in its history.

But the new baby is not well received. The leaders of several German clubs accuse Red Bull of making a self-promotional product from scratch, only to market its brand, and the owners’ small arrangements with the Nepali rules to ease tensions. In fact, the letters “RB” in the club’s name officially mean “RasenBallsport” (“grass ball sport”), but it is actually a way of circumventing the laws of the German Federation that prohibit the assignment of the name of a commercial company to a club before the latter had 20 years of shareholding and thus placed Red Bulls initials in a “subtle” way.

The big clubs’ ultra-supporters also do not accept the entry of the energy drink into their sport. Several incidents in the stands have punctured in recent seasons, with insulting or threatening banners placed against “red bulls” or their sponsor. Examples: “Killing an ox is not a crime” or “Red Bull gives you wings? Above all, you risk falling from a height”. During a derby against Dresden 2016, opposing supportersshowed an ox’s head full of blood. And in November 2017, Dortmund fans went so far as to physically attack visitors from Leipzig after a match, leaving ten injured.

PSG will have to deal with their injuries

Against PSG, RB Leipzig has the opportunity to write a new page in its recent history. And why not challenge Bayern Munich, who face the Olympics in the second semi-final, and continue their challenge to the established order in German football?

Especially since then, fate continues to attack the Parisian club. His goalkeeper, Keylor Navas, who was injured in the quarterfinals against Atalanta Bergamo, is officially confiscated. And his teammate, Senegalese Idrissa Gueye, is “unsure” after a training injury. The only good news is the return to training of Marco Verratti, Thiago Silva and Layvin Kurzawa, injured to varying degrees. But will they be 100% for the semifinals? The uncertainty remains.

LePSG can at least count on the return of two of their “Fantastic”: Angel Di Maria, suspended during the quarter-finals, and especially prodigy Kylian Mbappé, recovered from his ankle injury and writer to a decisive entry against ‘Atalanta. If the Parisian coach, Thomas Tuchel, finally has all his offensive arsenal, the German technician may be tempted to sacrifice center forward Mauro Icardi to place Neymar at the heart of a 4-3-3 that has done wonders against the Italians.

Despite this litany (not so much in the end) of injuries, the club believes more than ever in its chances of lifting the cup to the big ears, after years of failures that have driven the thesis of a “curse”. A PSG-Bayern final is also preferred by forecasters.

“The only thing we have in mind is Leipzig. This is our goal. We can make a big mistake if we are already thinking about what may come after,” warned midfielder Ander Herrera at the conference rush.