PSG's New Look Champions League Kickoff Against Dortmund Amidst Growing Pains.
Fresh look Dortmund is the first team PSG plays in the Champions League. Its new members haven’t yet bonded.

The last time Paris Saint-Germain played in the Champions League, they beat Juventus with a team that included Lionel Messi and Neymar.

The two best soccer players in the world didn’t score that night, and PSG later lost in the last 16 of Europe’s top tournament for the fifth time in seven years. The early exit showed again that PSG’s plan of putting together star-studded teams without a real backbone doesn’t work.

In-the-French-Ligue-1-soccer-match-held-at-Parc-des-Princes-stadium-in-Paris-on-Friday-September-15-2023
In the French Ligue 1 soccer match held at Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on Friday, September 15, 2023, PSG’s Warren Zaire-Emery, on the left, competes for the ball with Nice’s Youssouf Ndayishimiye.

During the summer, the owners changed their master plan, so when PSG plays Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday, it will be a different team. The group stage of the top European event starts on Tuesday.

As usual, the French winners spent a lot of money on new players, but they don’t seem to be as focused on getting big names as they used to be.

In-the-French-Ligue-1-soccer-match-at-Parc-des-Princes-stadium-in-Paris-on-Friday-September-15-2023
In the French Ligue 1 soccer match at Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on Friday, September 15, 2023, Nice’s Melvin Bard, on the left, jubilates following a goal against PSG’s Ousmane Dembele.

The PSG team that plays Dortmund on Tuesday is very different from the one that lost to Bayern Munich last season. This is the 12th straight year that PSG has been in the group stage.

Up front, Marco Asensio came from Real Madrid, Goncalo Ramos came from Benfica, and Randal Kolo Muani joined. He could play with Kylian Mbappé and Ousmane Dembélé to make an all-French attack. Kang-in Lee and Manuel Ugarte were brought in to change the centre for PSG. At the back, Lucas Hernandez of Bayern Munich and Milan Skriniar were signed.

Sergio Ramos and Marco Verratti have also left, along with Messi, Neymar, and Mbappé. Under new coach Luis Enrique, PSG has moved to a 4-3-3 system, so Neymar, Messi, and Mbappé do not have to play together.

During-the-French-Ligue-1-soccer-match-between-Paris-Saint-Germain-and-Nice-at-Parc-des-Princes-stadium-in-Paris-on-Friday-September-15-2023
During the French Ligue 1 soccer match between Paris Saint Germain and Nice at Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on Friday, September 15, 2023, Nice’s Evann Guessand, on the left, vies for the ball with PSG’s Milan Skriniar.

The Qatari owners, who took over in 2011, have a lot of money and hope that their new plan will finally help them bring the club’s success at home to the biggest stage in Europe. They also count on Enrique, who in his first season as coach of Barcelona won the Champions League, the Spanish league, and the Copa del Rey.

“You need ambition, but being obsessed with something never works out, in any area of life,” Enrique said Monday when asked about PSG’s desire to win the Champions League. “We’re really hopeful, we want to play, we want to make our fans happy, and we want the tournament to start, but we’re not crazy about it.”

But the new players haven’t yet come together as a strong team, and Enrique’s possession-based scheme hasn’t worked right away.

In the French league, PSG has only gotten eight points out of five games, which is the fewest it has gotten since the 2010-11 season. Over the weekend, they lost at home to Nice by a score of 3-2. Skriniar and Dembele both had bad games for PSG, which looked shaky and lacking offensive flair.

Enrique, on the other hand, said that the news did not bother him.

“If we’re talking about the three goals, then two of them were deflected by our defenders,” the boss said. “I have nothing to worry about. I think we’ll play better on Tuesday, and I’m sure we’ll be better. Even though it’s a match against a tough opponent, I’m hopeful.”

After Mbappé and club officials got into a fight over his contract, the France scorer has given Enrique faith. Mbappé scored two goals against Nice after coming back from a knee injury. He should lead the attack against Dortmund.

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