Top French team, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) rose from the verge of another disappointing Champions League exit in Lisbon to qualify last evening for the semi-finals of this year’s European Champions League. This is the first time the club is reaching this stage of the competition since 1995 despite spending heavily each year.
Now they are within 90 minutes of the Champions League final thanks to their dramatic win over Atalanta and coach Thomas Tuchel has declared “everything is possible” for his team.
According to AFP reports, PSG had trailed Atalanta 1-0 up to the 90th minute until the Mario Pasalic’s 27th-minute strike for the Italians was finally cancelled out by Marquinhos, in a last-gasp leveller.
Then, three minutes into injury time, Kylian Mbappe set up fellow substitute Eric Choupo-Moting to convert the clinching goal.
“The goals came very late but we deserved the victory. We never stopped believing or attacking,” said Tuchel, whose team will face Atletico Madrid or RB Leipzig in the semi-final.
“The boys who came off the bench had a big impact. We deserved it, we made our own luck.”
The money ploughed into the French champions by their Qatari owners has increased the pressure on PSG to deliver and losing to Atalanta would have invited more criticism of a club whose recent record in such games has been poor. After all, Atalanta’s entire wage bill is believed to be equivalent to what PSG pay Neymar per year (about 36 million euros, or $42.5m).
PSG will be hopeful the France star can start the semi-final next Tuesday, but it is thanks to Choupo-Moting that they are there at all.
“We’ve already won four titles this season but the most important is this one,” declared the Cameroon striker to AFP.
It seems ironic that PSG — the world’s fifth-richest club according to this year’s Deloitte Football League — needed to rely on a free transfer from Stoke City to take them through to the Champions League semi-finals for the first time since the Qatari takeover in 2011.