Whether you live in Nigeria or Nicaragua, as a soccer fan, you will have a stake in which club wins the Champions League. The competition is the premier tournament in the sport, period.
The English FA Cup may be the oldest, and World Cup has prestige, but nothing beats Europe’s main brand regarding the quality of the play.
And it seems as if soccer lovers are in for a treat after Paris Saint-Germain signed Lionel Messi on a free and added the Argentine to their already impressive squad.
The bookmakers place PSG as the +275 favorites before a balled has been kicked.
However, there’s a chance the French giants may not find the upcoming season as easy as supporters and pundits assume.
Ligue 1 Has Just Become More One-sided
Objectively, the French league has always been one-sided because PSG is the top club in the country with all the resources.
Even without Messi, they can rely on Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, two of the greatest soccer players in the world.
Lille upset the odds last year, but Les Parisiens have won seven of the last nine editions of Ligue 1.
Boasting the greatest player of all time in their ranks means the likes of Lille and Monaco, the only legitimate title contenders will find it almost impossible to sustain a push for the trophy.
After all, Messi brings 30 goals and nine assists to the Parc des Princes, which is why the Ligue 1 betting odds make PSG the –900 favorites for the outright win.
But the lack of competition could work against Mauricio Pochettino.
Yes, hypothetically, they will be fresh and ready for the knockout stages, but the team could lack match practice.
If they roll over every side in France, it’s not healthy preparation for facing the likes of Man City, Bayern Munich and Juventus.
The Defense Will Be Vulnerable
Although the thought of Messi, Neymar, and Mbappe bearing down on opponents’ defenses will excite PSG fans, it’s important to consider their weak points.
Obviously, it’s the lack of work rate from a talented front three. They aren’t known for their work rates moving away from goal once the ball has been lost.
Take Neymar in the Copa America against Peru.
Arguably, it was his most impressive game as he scored and assisted once and managed 93 more touches than anyone else on the pitch.
He may not be expected to be defensively-minded, but 90 minutes is a long time not to attempt to break up the play or recover the ball.
Angel Di Maria is the guy who does this the best, and he probably won’t spend much time on the field as the balance will be skewed with four attacking players in the offense.
Marco Verratti, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Ander Herrera will run their socks off in midfield; however, it may not be enough.
With gaping holes between the three up front and those in the middle of the park, PSG could be vulnerable to quick and efficient counterattacks.
These potential issues won’t harm PSG too much in the opening rounds of the competition.
It will be at the business end of the Champions League when the cracks begin to appear and the team may struggle to score more than it concedes.