5 Reasons Why Paris Saint-Germain Will Win 2014 UEFA Champions League
2014 UEFA Champions League: 5 Reasons Why Paris Saint-Germain Will Win
Most of the attention ahead of the 2014 UEFA Champions League Round 16 is on the big clubs from Germany and England, but Paris Saint-Germain are rounding into form at just the right time. They sit five points clear of Monaca in Ligue 1 and are coming off a 2-1 victory in the semifinals of the Coupe de La Ligue. Coach Laurent Blanc said he was satisfied with "practically everything" on January 20. They will now move forward to a clash with Bayer Leverkusen in Champions League action.
The players are confident of their chances to win and to be crowned the best in Europe. Midfielder Marco Verratti has been outspoken about his team's ability to beat elite competition on the way to the crown. Other players have even commented on PSG as Cristiano Ronaldo told Telefoot that the French club is one of the favorites in the competition.
The confidence could grow this weekend as PSG takes on the team in second place in Ligue 1, Monaco. Dimitar Berbatov was added to the side in hopes of catching PSG for the crown. If Paris Saint-Germain can come away with the victory at Stade Louis II, they will all but seal a repeat championship. PSG has a legitimate chance at a treble, having clinched a spot in the French cup final, most likely against Lyon. Lyon is leading Troyes at halftime at the time of writing.
The Champions League will be the biggest hurdle for PSG, but they have all the pieces in place and momentum in their favor. Before facing Leverkusen at BayArena in Germany on February 18, they will face Valenciennes FC on matchday 25 in Ligue 1. The two teams are currently separated by 36 points in the table, so it should be a nice tune-up for PSG and a chance to rest players. This is a team that should be considered a serious contender in the Champions League.
5. Edinson Cavani
Edinson Cavani went down with a thigh injury, but it should only keep him out for the first leg of the Round of 16. PSG will have his services at home in the second leg to either clinch or provide a spark. The team has plenty of talent, but having Cavani rested and healthy makes them an even bigger threat.
4. Midfield Skill
The midfield of PSG is solid and skillful. Thiago Motta, Marco Verratti and Blaise Matuidi make the 4-3-3 formation of Blanc tick and have proven to be silky all year. They will face opposition midfields with more energy, but very few have more skill. In the round of 16 tie, pay close attention to the mobility of Leverkusen and the amount of energy they will expend to keep Motta from orchestrating plays. In this case, skill will beat energy.
In 23 matches in Ligue 1, PSG has allowed just 15 goals. Much of this can be contributed to a great center-back pairing of captain Thiago Silva and Alex. 19-year-old Marquinhos has put his stamp on the back line as well. Only Olympiakos has shown better defense in their domestic league among the final 16 club sides.
2. The Addition of Yohan Cabaye
During the latest transfer window, PSG swooped in to nab Yohan Cabaye from Newcastle, giving him a chance to play in the Champions League for the first time since 2007. His addition may mean changes to the three-man midfield, but this player is a maestro from deep. His vision and free kicks have been praised. Recently at Newcastle, he was given the freedom to roam from a no. 10 position. Cabaye will be an asset to PSG.
1. Zlatan -- It's always Zlatan
There is not much that needs to be explained with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He is a folk hero, a character and one of the best footballers on the planet. In his five Champions League matches this season, he has scored five times. He leads Ligue 1 in goals and assists this year. The Champions League title is the top of the mountain for Ibrahimovic this year with Sweden missing out on the World Cup. He will be a Ballon D'or candidate next year, and some say this is his best season yet. go check out his Volvo commercial if you haven't seen it. It spawned a great meme. Zlatanfish FTW!