Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) began its previous Champions League campaign with a star-studded team featuring Lionel Messi and Neymar, securing a win over Juventus. Despite the firepower, PSG was knocked out in the last 16, highlighting the limitations of assembling a squad solely built around big names. However, the club’s owners decided to change their approach during the offseason, heralding a fresh PSG as the group stage of the elite European tournament kicks off.
While PSG still invested significantly in new recruits, they appear to have shifted their focus away from high-profile signings. Entering the group stage for the 12th consecutive time, the PSG squad set to face Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday is markedly different from the one eliminated by Bayern Munich last season.
Upfront, PSG added Marco Asensio from Real Madrid, Gonçalo Ramos from Benfica, and Randal Kolo Muani to potentially form an all-French attacking force alongside Kylian Mbappé and Ousmane Dembélé. PSG also revamped its midfield by bringing in Kang-in Lee and Manuel Ugarte. In defense, Bayern Munich’s Lucas Hernandez and Milan Skriniar were added to bolster the backline.
The departures of Messi and Neymar were notable, and PSG also saw Sergio Ramos and Marco Verratti exit. Under new coach Luis Enrique, PSG transitioned to a 4-3-3 formation, a change that no longer requires accommodating Neymar, Messi, and Mbappé together.
The Qatari investors, who have been infusing PSG with funds since 2011, are hopeful that this new strategy will lead to European success and help replicate the club’s domestic dominance. They are banking on Enrique, who previously won the Champions League, La Liga, and Copa del Rey in his first season in charge of Barcelona. Enrique emphasized the importance of ambition while avoiding an obsession with winning the Champions League.
However, the integration of new players has not yet produced a cohesive unit, and Enrique’s possession-based system has yet to yield immediate results. Over the weekend, PSG displayed shaky defensive performances and lacked attacking creativity, with Skriniar and Dembélé delivering below-par displays.
Enrique, nevertheless, remains unfazed by these early setbacks and is focused on the journey ahead.