Paris Saint-Germain were beaten Champions League finalists last year with Bayern Munich proving too strong for Thomas Tuchel’s side.
Fast-forward almost seven months and the Parisians have a new coach in Mauricio Pochettino but look just as formidable in Europe’s premier competition, having comfortably dispatched of Barcelona 5-2 on aggregate.
They may not be top of their domestic league currently but with the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Neymar in their ranks, to write them off would be foolish. The French-forward has netted an impressive 26 times in 33 appearances and with the Brazilian by his side, they’re capable of troubling even the most stubborn of defences.
Taking into account their run in the competition last season and the strength of their squad, 90min looks at a number of factors that may impact their chances and whether they should be favourites to lift the trophy in the Turkish capital come May 29.
The former Spurs boss worked wonders during his time in north London, guiding the Lilywhites to the 2019 Champions League final. However, to date the only trophy the Argentine has won as a coach was the French Super Cup, 11 days after he took over in the French capital.
Often the 49-year-old is criticised for a lack of silverware and although you could certainly make the case that at PSG he is better equipped to challenge for major honours, he is yet to prove he can guide a team over the finishing line.
Kylian Mbappe and Neymar are undoubtedly the two biggest stars at Parc des Princes, but Pochettino is blessed with a strong squad that also includes the likes of Marco Verratti, Marquinhos, Mauro Icardi and Keylor Navas.
World class players often prove to be the difference makers but as well as having generational talents at their disposal, the Parisians have a strong supporting cast of experienced internationals.
Manchester City and Bayern Munich are the favourites to win the competition, with PSG currently in third. Pep Guardiola’s side have a commanding lead at the top of the Premier League and may have the luxury of being able to take their foot off the gas at some point, focussing fully on European glory.
The Bundesliga leaders have RB Leipzig hot on their heels domestically and have no such luxury. Defensively, they’ve been a shadow of the side they were last season, having already conceded more goals in the league in 2020/21 than they did in the entire 2019/20 campaign.
Outside of the aforementioned clubs, although not impossible, it is difficult to see the likes of Liverpool, Chelsea and Real Madrid, who have all struggled for consistency this season, going all the way.
Taking everything into consideration, there is no reason why the reigning French champions can’t go all the way. Last season’s experience would have undoubtedly been a painful one but reaching the final was a sign of the progress the club has made in recent seasons.
The victory over Barcelona and its nature was a statement and anybody they face in the competition would be foolish not to recognise that they’re a real contender. This season’s competition not only offers the club the chance to collect the ultimate prize but the opportunity for Pochettino to silence his doubters.