Paris Saint-Germain will take on Juventus in the Champions League tonight.
Surprisingly, these two European giants have not faced each other in a competitive match since Juventus ran out 9-2 aggregate winners in the 1996 UEFA Super Cup.
Much has changed since then, of course, with PSG’s trajectory shooting massively upwards since being taken over by Qatar Sports Investments in 2011, helping them purchase superstars such as Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Lionel Messi along the way.
However, the Champions League continues to elude the Parisians, with their 1-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the final in 2020 the closest they have come to lifting Europe’s elite competition for the first time.
Last season, they were knocked out by Real Madrid at the last-16 stage, despite holding a 2-0 aggregate lead with only half an hour remaining at the Bernabeu Stadium, but Karim Benzema’s quick-fire hat-trick turned the tie on its head in yet another collapse at the highest level from PSG.
Christophe Galtier has succeeded Mauricio Pochettino in the dugout this summer, and the former Lille boss looks to have made PSG a more balanced unit already having switched to a 3-5-2 formation during the early weeks of his tenure. Five wins and one draw – including a comfortable 3-0 win away to Nantes at the weekend – has seen them move top of Ligue 1, ahead of Marseille on goal difference.
As with any PSG manager in recent times, though, it will be results and progress in the Champions League where Galtier is most heavily scrutinised. With Maccabi Haifa, Benfica and forthcoming opponents Juventus drawn alongside them in Group H, progressing to the knockout stages for an 11th successive season should not be a major issue, but it is thereafter where the real challenge will begin.
Juventus, meanwhile, have won the European Cup on two occasions in their history, although they are considered the eternal bridesmaids having lost in seven other finals.
Since losing in the final to Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid in 2015 and 2017 respectively, the Turin-based side have not progressed beyond the quarter-finals of the Champions League, disappointingly losing to Lyon, Benfica and Villarreal at the last-16 stage in each of the last three seasons.
While expectations are lower at Juventus these days – they have not won Serie A since 2020, with the two Milan sides seemingly improving beyond them – Massimiliano Allegri will hope to at least go one step further than that this time around.
They remain unbeaten in Serie A after five matches so far, although three draws means they are a couple of points behind AC Milan and Napoli at the top of the table, but having only conceded two goals across those games, there is clearly a solid platform to build from.
Their defence will certainly need to be at their best today if they are to prevent PSG’s star-studded attacking players from running riot at Parc des Princes.
PSG have almost a fully fit squad to choose from, with only Julian Draxler and Timothee Pembele unavailable due to knee injuries. Juventus, meanwhile, have several injury issues, which could see them travel without Paul Pogba, Adrien Rabiot, Wojciech Szczesny, Marley Ake, Kaio Jorge and Federico Chiesa. – SportsMole
Dinamo Zagreb v Chelsea
Sevilla v Man City
Celtic v Real Madrid
PSG v Juventus
RB Salzburg v AC Milan
Dortmund v Copenhagen
RB Leipzig v S. Donetsk
Benfica v Maccabi Haifa