Runners-up spot leaves PSG in dangerous waters
PARIS: After faltering in the Champions League quarter-finals four times in a row, Paris St Germain could face the prospect of a last-16 exit after a mediocre performance against Ludogorets saw them finish the group stage in second place.
PSG needed an extra-time equaliser by Angel Di Maria to salvage 2-2 home draw against the Bulgarian side but that result still allowed Arsenal, who beat Basel 4-1, to leap-frog them into first place in Group A. PSG will now await next Monday’s round of 16 draw anxiously, hoping to avoid an earlier-than-hoped meeting with either Real Madrid or Barcelona.
“Top spot was our goal. We are qualified but we should have won this game. I was expecting more from the players,” said club president Nasser al Khelaifi. Defender Thomas Meunier added: “We will see if it was a failure when we know the draw, there are teams that could be good for us,” PSG could also face Leicester City, Napoli, Juventus, Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, or Borussia Dortmund. PSG had shown signs of weakness at the weekend, losing 3-0 at Montpellier in Ligue 1 in their biggest defeat in over five years, but they failed to react on Tuesday, defending poorly again.
“It’s a bad result. I am worried because we don’t usually concede so many goals,” said coach Unai Emery. PSG have conceded five goals in their last two games - as many as in their 10 previous matches in all competitions.
In the absence of the suspended Marco Verratti and the injured Adrien Rabiot, they also lacked creativity in midfield. To add to their woes, Thiago Motta will be suspended for the first leg of their last 16 game.
Despite an under-par performance in the group phase, where they won only three games, the team and Emery are still backed by Al Khelaifi. “I trust my players and my coach,” he said. Emery took over from Laurent Blanc during the close season after the former France coach led the club to three successive French titles. PSG lie third in Ligue 1, four points behind leaders Nice, whom they face at the Parc des Princes on Sunday. “I hope the players will react, it’s important to beat Nice at home,” said Al Khelaifi.
“The squad is experienced enough to deal with that kind of complicated periods,” said Meunier.
PARIS: Paris Saint-Germain’s players observe a minute’s silence for the players of the Brazilian Chapecoense football team who died in a plane chrash last week in Colombia ahead the UEFA Champions League Group A football match between Paris Saint-Germain and PCF Ludogorets Razgrad at the Parc des Princes Stadium in Paris on Tuesday. — AFP