PSG's Champions League curse continues
Since 2012, PSG have always suffered injury problems ahead of key Champions League games. They could be without several stars against Real Madrid.
Since Nasser Al Khelaïfi's arrival, PSG have gained a reputation for being one of the top sides to beat in the Champions League. However, the current Ligue 1 leaders have a tendecy to suffer untimely setbacks ahead of their big European games. Over the past decade, PSG were without key players for crucial ties - a tradition which could be repeated this year as Pochettino could be without Neymar, Paredes and Ramos for next week's Last 16 clash with Real Madrid. Two of them will be doubtful until the eve of the game.
PSG's bad luck in Europe
PSG's bad fortune began in the 2012/13 season. With Carlo Ancelotti at the helm, they met Barcelona in the Champions League quarter finals. The Italian coach was without Thiago Motta and Matuidi - the tie ended 3-3 and Barça advanced to the next round on away goals. It was a similar story the following year when they faced Chelsea at the same stage. This time, PSG were unable to count on Ibrahimovic and Van der Wiel and once again ended losing on away goals after Demba Ba levelled the tie in the dying minutes at Stamford Bridge.
They drew Chelsea in the Last 16 of the 2014/15 edition - once again, plagued by injuries. For the first leg in Paris, coach Laurent Blanc was missing four first team regulars - Motta, Aurier, Cabaye and Lucas Moura as it ended 1-1. For the return leg at Stamford Bridge, Lucas Moura and Aurier were still unavailable but the team edged the tie thanks to a late David Luiz strike. Just when it looked like PSG's Champions League jinx was over, disaster struck in the quarter finals. Barcelona were the rivals and Blanc was missing stars in both the home and away legs. PSG lost the first leg 0-3 with Ibrahimovic, Verratti, Aurier and Thiago Motta all out injured. Even though the tie was practically over, PSG travelled to Barcelona without Thiago Silva, Thiago Motta and Aurier.
Blanc's time at PSG could not have ended much worse with his team suffering a nightmare in the Champions League. PSG had taken a 2-2 from the first leg away at Manchester City, giving them a unique chance to make the semi-finals for just the second time in their history. But they suffered more injuries ahead of the second leg at the Etihad. Blanc had to reorganise his midfield as Verratti was unable to travel and he lost Thiago Motta to injury just before half-time. PSG ended the game playing with three centre-back and lost the game 1-0 with Kevin De Bruyne's winner sending City through.
In recent seasons, the key absentee in the Champions League knockout rounds has been Neymar. Since the Brazilian swapped Barcelona for Paris in 2017, he has missed three out of four ties in the Round of 16. He sat out the return leg against Real Madrid in 2018, both legs of the meeting with Manchester United at the same stage in 2019; he was fit a year later to face Borussia Dortmund but was back in the casualty room before both meetings with his old club Barcelona in 2021. Now, he is doubtful for Tuesday's clash with Real Madrid, as is Paredes, who is nursing an abductor injury and Sergio Ramos, who is practically ruled out for the first leg in Paris. It sums up the bad luck which PSG have had over the past 10 years in the Champions League.
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