Best of the Rest

The parallel between Manchester City and PSG’s league titles

 

 

Two titles around Europe were clinched over the weekend. Manchester City clinched the Premier League with a 3-1 at Tottenham and PSG clinched the Ligue 1 title in an absolute massacre beating second place Monaco 7-1.

There are some striking similarities between the two. It starts with how both teams are two of the wealthiest teams in the world thanks to Middle Eastern oil money but the teams seasons also are very similar, especially how they will be remembered.

It had been a rough week for Manchester City, they came to Wembley in the midst of a 3 game losing streak. They lost both legs of their Champions League quarterfinal against Liverpool and lost at home last Saturday to crosstown rival Manchester United blowing a 2-0 halftime lead which could have been 5-0 if Raheem Sterling could have hit the broad side of the barn, ultimately losing 3-2 and blowing a chance to win the title at home in front of their fans and against the team they despise the most.

Coming into the game versus Tottenham they couldn’t clinch the title with a win, they needed to beat Tottenham and then hope that basement dwellers West Brom could win against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

City came out and played an extraordinary first half against Spurs. It looked a lot like the first half against United the week before but more importantly it looked a lot more like the City team we have seen all year that a lot of us have thought were unbeatable.

Pep Guardiola went back to playing a more normal lineup, not the experimental lineups that he played against Liverpool that cost him badly.

Jurgen Klopp is somehow in his brain, no other manager is, but Pep was terrified of Liverpool and he managed that way which was a big reason that they performed so poorly against the reds.

But against Spurs on Saturday, he went back to a 4-3-3 with Gabriel Jesus up front, with Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane on the wings. Sergio Aguero has been ruled out for the rest of the season.

He played his normal fullbacks with Kyle Walker on the right and Fabian Delph on the left.

The only real difference was that Fernandinho was absent with a suspension so Ilkay Gundogan stepped in as the deepest lying midfield and David Silva and Kevin De Bryune flanked him.

The reason I went so in depth into their lineup is this is how Man City has played all year and you could see the difference with the way they played in the first half. Don’t get me wrong I love that Klopp lives in his head but at the same time being objective for a minute I will never understand why he played those games the way he did.

Even when Spurs got a goal back to get back into the game Pep knew he needed to make a change. He went to 3 in the back taking off Leroy Sane for Nicolas Otamendi.

This move allowed Raheem Sterling to play more centrally. He did miss a chance or two but he was able to score the insurance goal.

Sterling had such a rough week, but you have to love the belief Pep had in him to make him a key figure in a tight game. Sterling didn’t let Pep down. After the switch Sterling was the best player on the pitch.

The move also allowed City to get more space in midfield which Spurs had begun to take away from them.

This was a Pep masterclass and a vintage performance by them which is another example how weird it was to see them lose 3 in a row.

City got the win and got the break they needed when Jay Rodriguez scored in the 73rd minute to give West Brom one of the most shocking wins of the season at Old Trafford.  How this United team is in second blows my mind I think I could write 2000 words just on this United team and how fascinating this season has been to watch.

Now that City has wrapped up the title of course the media and social media has to label this to see where this City team lands historically.

I love how City and PSG both won their leagues on the same weekend so I can lump them together.

City was being talked about as maybe the best team in the Premier League era. This of course upset Arsenal fans because of the invincibles.

I don’t necessarily want to compare the two but finishing unbeaten doesn’t necessarily make you the best team ever.

Barcelona is coming down to the wire to maybe finish the season unbeaten, which is wild since no one is talking about it. But is this the best Barca team in the Messi era? Hell no. The treble winning team in 2014-2015 for one was better and there were others. The 72 Dolphins are the only NFL team to go undefeated and most will tell you they aren’t the best NFL team ever, so to say that Arsenal team was better just because they were unbeaten is irresponsible.

This City team is likely going to finish with most points ever, the first team to go over 100 points, they’re likely going to finish with the most goals ever as well.

I don’t know if they’re the best team ever in the Premier League era, it’s tough to compare with teams of the past like the afformentioned invincibles or the late 90’s Manchester United teams, but I will say that this team is one of the best. They are one of the most fun to watch, they’ve been a pleasure to watch this season, so people can debate this until their dead. I will stay out of it and just say they were absolutely incredible and should be remembered as one of the best.

One thing that is going to hurt them historically is what happened in the Champions League, this is where City and PSG are similar.

At one point City was looking like it was going to be a historic season. It’s already historic with some of the milestones they will hit with the league, but they were looking like they could win a historic quadruple, but that ended when Wigan took them out of the FA Cup, but a treble was still in play until Liverpool took them out of the Champions League.

The Champions League is the one that is going to hurt them with how they’re remembered. Ask Bayern Munich or Juventus, they have both won a million league titles in a row but it’s their failures in Europe that define them more than anything, so with City there will be a lot of great, it was a good season, you dominated the Premier League, but what did you do in Europe!?

It might be a little harsh but it’s kind of true. If you want to be looked at as one of the best teams in Europe losing in the quarterfinals of the Champions League is something that will hold you back from that, especially losing to a league rival in Liverpool and getting beat the way they got beat. They didn’t lose in heartbreaking fashion they were destoryed.

The Premier League is much better than Ligue 1 but it’s the same thing PSG has been dealing with for a few years now. If you don’t have success in Europe it sort of lessens what you’ve been able to accomplish in league. It may be harsh but it is also reality.

Speaking of PSG. They won the Ligue 1 title with an absolute beatdown of rival and last year’s title winner Monaco 7-1.

This is PSG’s 5th title in 6 years so to win it in the fashion they did against the team that is keeping this from 6 in a row has to be a little sweet for them.

They ran out to a 4-0 lead in 27 minutes. The highlight of it for me was the Angel Di Maria cheeky chip to score their 3rd goal off of a beautiful ball by Cavani.

I think because of Neymar and Mbappe coming to PSG this season which took a lot of playing time away from Di Maria people forgot how good he is, but he’s been sensational since Neymar went down for the season and has reminded people how damn good he is.

Clinching your league in the fashion they did against the team they did it against had to be one of the better ways to win a title other than maybe how Man City won the Premier League in 2012.

But the parallel between Manchester City and PSG is very striking.

PSG has been going through this for years back to the Zlatan days. They have looked like they have had the talent to do great things in Europe but for whatever reason would come up short and this has defined them much more than their dominance of Ligue 1.

This entire season was built on having Champions League success. Bringing in and spending all the money they spent on Neymar, Mbappe, and Dani Alves was for one reason and one reason only which was success in the Champions League.

I had City as the favorites all season but many had PSG as the favorites. Especially when they beat Bayern Munich 3-0 back in September.

Fairly or unfairly when they brought in the horses they brought in this summer the only thing that mattered to them was winning the Champions League. Anything else was going to be considered a failure. So, after winning their group it almost seemed unfair that they drew 2 time defending champs Real Madrid in the round of 16.

We all know what happened. They were the better team in the first leg but ended up losing 3-1 in the first leg thanks to a late charge by Madrid as they scored goals in the 83rd and 86th minutes.

You also had the penalty that Madrid got at the end of the first half when Toni Kroos went down very easily you had to felt like they were a bit unlucky.

I liked their chances down 2-1 going home but when it got to 3-1 it felt like they were going to be in a bit of trouble, but they were still going home, going home to a place that they had destroyed people all season so they weren’t out of this yet.

But unfortunately for them star man Neymar went down on the Sunday before late in a 3-0 win over rival Marseille with an ankle injury that would require surgery and keep him out for the rest of the season.

Even though the second leg was still to play it felt all but over at this point and it was. Madrid won the second leg 2-1 for a 5-2 aggergate win which was a very disappointing way to end their Champions League campaign, which was the only thing that mattered this season.

I never had them as favorites. They were the favorites against Real Madrid. I was rooting for them but picked Madrid.

Watching this PSG team all season I felt like they weren’t mentally tough enough to deal with the best of Europe when they dealt with adversity.

Everytime I watched them this season prior to this when they dealt with adversity they tended to lose their shit and break down.

This is essentially what happened in the first leg against Real Madrid. It was like I was watching exactly like I thought was going to happen and I’m not that smart. But this team was so predictable. Neymar was probably the worst and you can’t win the Champions League when your best player is petulant.

Manager Unai Emery will take plenty of blame and I understand why, but I also think he’s a fine manager and will be the scapegoat for a season that went all wrong.

Former Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel is the favorite to get the job and maybe he will make all the difference but this team has to grow up if they want to get over this Champions League curse.

Just like Man City no matter what PSG has done outside the Champions League will be remembered or cared about. It is all about Europe for both of them.

It’s actually worse for PSG. City had expectations coming into the season but they didn’t have the win the Champions League or the entire season is a failure pressure on them from the start of the season. For City those expectations came later after people saw how dominant they were.

But PSG came into the season with it. Their players to their credit didn’t hide from it but some bad luck and a key injury cost them, but despite the talent I don’t think they would have won it even if Neymar stayed healthy and they had better luck in the first leg against Madrid.

This team had as much talent as anyone but the Champions League is a grind and I don’t think this team had ever come together as a team or had the ability to grind out those results during those tough Europeon nights.

There is no doubt that both teams had fine seasons. Seasons that pretty much every team around Europe would be happy with, but for these teams it wasn’t good enough. Europeon success was necessary for these teams to be looked at as one of the greats and it was an area that both came up short.

There is no doubt that both teams will go into the summer looking to bring in guys to fix their Champions League problems and both teams will go into next season with the same expectations.

Comments