Something will have to give when Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) meet in the Champions League on Wednesday.
Both soccer teams have enjoyed an unbeaten run of five domestic games, in the Premier League and Ligue 1 respectively, to start the season.
French champions PSG are planning another attack in pursuit of Europe’s premier cup competition. Despite substantial investment from the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), PSG has only managed one Champions League semi-final appearance — in 1995, well before Nasser Al-Khelaifi’s millions came to Paris and three years before forward Kylian Mbappe was born.
The PSG squad boasts the world’s two most expensive players. Mbappe’s transfer fee of €135 million ($158 million) from Monaco was made permanent earlier this summer, a figure only topped by the €222 million PSG paid for Neymar a year earlier.
Since 2011, when QIA took ownership of the club, Al-Khelaifi has paid out more than €1 billion on players, winning France’s Ligue 1 domestic title in five of those seven seasons. While almost peerless in its own country, PSG’s struggles are clear in Europe, where it exited the Champions League at the last 16 stage in both 2016 and 2017.
Thomas Tuchel is the latest head coach charged with bringing trophies to Paris. Ahead of PSG’s meeting with Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday, he played down the notion that his job was dependent on winning the Champions League.
“No-one has told me this, in all the talks, that I have to win this otherwise I didn’t do my job right,” he said. “If we judge ourselves only by the biggest goal in European football, the possibility of a big disappointment is high. Why should we do this?”
Contrast the fortunes of PSG with those of its group stage rivals Liverpool, Champions League runners-up last season in the club’s first appearance in the competition for four years.
Jurgen Klopp is into his third full season in charge of the five-times European champions, but has yet to win a trophy at Liverpool, despite taking the team to three finals.
Liverpool was the highest spending Premier League side during the summer, spending £168 million on new players, the most expensive of whom was goalkeeper Alisson Becker from Roma for £67 million.
With both clubs having won all five opening matches in their respective league competitions ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash, Group C — completed by Napoli and Red Star Belgrade — is looking tight.