https://www.theguardian.com/football/bl ... e-footballPSG demise a lesson in the corrupting effect of money and arrogance
It was a great week for the puckish charms of football and its ability to confound hubris
Football still, it turns out, has the power to fight back. Money is a lot of things but it isn’t quite everything, not yet.
Although before we get carried away, it should be acknowledged that it really is a lot of things, most things even, almost everything. The leagues of Italy and France are a walkover yet again. Spain and Germany will probably have very familiar champions. So distorted has the modern view become that not only are Ajax, grandees of the Dutch game, transformed into plucky giant-killers, but somehow Manchester United can be cast as improbable outsiders. It was a great week for the puckish charms of football and its ability to confound hubris but nobody should kid themselves: it’s losing the war against greed.
In part, it’s true, that’s down to the frankly inexplicable magic of Solskjær, Dorian Gray as the Milky Bar Kid, living his eternal 1999. But it’s also down to the fact that PSG are the opposite of what Solskjær represents. He is romance and fun and loyalty and doing your job even if it frustrates you; open them up and where the heart should be you’ll find a fetid roll of banknotes. When it comes to the crunch, doing it to enhance the reputation of a faraway state seems not to stir the loins. We’ve seen this before, of course, most notably when a 4-0 lead was squandered two years ago. PSG, just as much as Solskjær, will always have Barcelona.
A few seconds in, Andreas Pereira fouled Dani Alves. His challenge was a fraction late, but it was nothing especially serious. But Alves was soon on his feet, finger wagging, head shaking. You don’t, the message seemed to be, do that to us. That spirit pervaded the whole performance. It was there when Marquinhos hurled himself down after a hand-off from Scott McTominay. It was there in a dozen over-reactions, dives and whines. It was there as Thiago Silva led a group of players pleading hopelessly with the referee Damir Skomina to overturn a penalty decision he had spent nearly five minutes making, there as others scuffed at the spot, there as Leandro Paredes wandered into the box to create a further distraction. And it was there in Neymar’s post-match Instagram post. This is an entitled group, unused to being made to battle.
The flipside of that was panic. Thilo Kehrer was every bit as jittery as Presnel Kimpembe had been in the first leg. United didn’t go forward much but, when they did, there was panic. But perhaps that’s understandable: this is not a team much used to having to defend, not much used to things not going their way.
PSG probably will win the Champions League eventually. Money gives you that: toss enough brilliant players together and eventually something will happen. But right now, it’s what’s holding them back. Neymar may be the most obvious offender, but he is only part of a much wider culture of decadence.