PSG and their treasure chest of talent are once again out of the Champions League at an early stage after a timid display in Munich on Wednesday night saw Bayern take a routine 2-0 win on the night, and progress 3-0 on aggregate.
It is the fifth time in the last seven seasons that the Parisians have exited the tournament at the last 16 stage - and the first of those occasions where they have failed to score a single goal across the two-legged tie, despite the wealth of attacking talent at their disposal.
Despite the millions (in truth, closer to billions) being thrown at this team, Wednesday night's defeat to Bayern exemplified perfectly why this flashy PSG team are further than ever from winning European football's biggest prize.
Bayern defeat brutally exposed PSG's shortcomings
There's an iconic episode of The Simpsons - 'Marge vs. The Monorail,' one of the series' finest - in which the town of Springfield is conned into building a faulty monorail system by a travelling salesman named Lyle Lanley. One of Lanley's best lines from the episode could rather aptly be used to describe Paris Saint-Germain:
You know, a town with money is a little like the mule with the spinning wheel. No one knows how he got it, and danged if he knows how to use it!
€222 million for Neymar. €180 million for Kylian Mbappé. Roughly upwards of €40 million per annum on Lionel Messi's salary. It's no secret that PSG are rolling in money. And, of course, we all know that it has come from their Qatari backing.
But Wednesday night was, perhaps even more so than their spectacular capitulations in previous Champions League seasons, the best indication yet that that money is going to get them absolutely nowhere when it comes to tasting silverware in Europe.
Aside from defeat in the 2020 final, and a 2021 semi-final appearance, PSG have now exited the Champions League at the last 16 stage every single year since the arrivals of Neymar and Mbappé in the summer of 2017.
In that time, they have seen a 4-0 lead overturned by Barcelona (2017), seen the worst Manchester United team fielded in Europe in the modern age come from 2-0 down to knock them out on away goals (2019), had players sent off in both legs of a semi-final capitulation against Manchester City (2021), and thrown away a 2-0 lead with 45 minutes to go of last season's last 16 against Real Madrid (2022).
But all of the above came against either extraordinary teams, or under extraordinary circumstances. What made Wednesday night's defeat to Bayern Munich so dismal was that neither were true.
▪️ Coman in the first-leg
▪️ Choupo-Moting in the second-leg
Another former PSG man scores against them in the #UCL 👻 pic.twitter.com/OCk5R6TWWu
— Watch the UCL on LiveScore 🇮🇪 (@LiveScoreIE) March 8, 2023
Bayern are rightly one of the favourites for this year's competition, but they were at their best in neither leg of their clash with PSG. They relied on some poor goalkeeping from Gianluigi Donnarumma to give them a 1-0 lead coming in to Wednesday night's game, before some dire defensive play allowed Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting an easy opener in Munich.
By the time Serge Gnabry made it 2-0 on the night, and 3-0 on aggregate, in the dying stages, most fans would have tuned out.
Quite simply, this is no longer surprising. Been there, done that, worn the t-shirt. PSG enter each season of the Champions League as one of the favourites, mainly due to the remarkable arsenal of world-class players at their disposal, but they have seldom, if ever, shown that they have the mentality or teamwork required to conquer Europe's best.
Wednesday night's performance was the most timid, lifeless, and empty yet of all of the club's Champions League failings. We have not even mentioned yet that they, last summer, added the greatest footballer of all time to their squad - and even Lionel Messi looked completely lost in Munich on Wednesday night. There was an extended 25-minute period of the second half in which neither he nor Mbappé were able to affect play in any meaningful way - it was as though PSG were playing with nine men.
That is not to say that Messi or Mbappé were necessarily at fault. Bayern were particularly physical and hostile to Messi, while their deep defensive setup did not allow for Mbappé's trademark pacey breaks in behind. That being said, PSG had more posession, and the same amount of shots as their German counterparts - the only difference was, they never once looked dangerous.
Game. Set. Match ✅
Bayern cruise into the quarter-finals 🎟️#UCL pic.twitter.com/DaIqWmmYEv
— Watch the UCL on LiveScore 🇮🇪 (@LiveScoreIE) March 8, 2023
PSG have built a "Harlem Globetrotters" style side off the back of enormous transfer fees, exorbitant wages, and ageing superstars signed on free transfers. Sergio Ramos - credit to him - has been rejuvenated this season, while mainstay Marquinhos may have been able to affect play if he had not been forced off injured in the first half.
But it is astonishing that PSG have spent such vast sums, and built such a super squad, that has next to no depth. The absence of Neymar was sorely felt on Wednesday night, while coach Christophe Galtier was left scrambling to find the right replacement for Marquinhos, ultimately changing his mind and substituting substitute Nordi Mukiele.
There was an irony in the fact that Bayern's winner was scored by ex-PSG man Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. He is the kind of player that has seen his career rejuvenated at Bayern, after being frozen out at PSG - he is the exact kind of squad player any good team will depend on, but there was simply no place for him in the French capital.
Marco Verratti is one of the world's best midfielders, but there is only so much he can do attempting to carry the engine of PSG's play with little inspiration surrounding him. PSG's lack-of-depth left them praying for a miracle from 17-year-old Warren Zaire-Emery off the bench. Meanwhile, Bayern's shrewd recruitment saw them bring Leroy Sané, Sadio Mané, Serge Gnabry, and Joao Cancelo off the bench - all players that could do a serious job in Paris.
Amid continued speculation that he will leave Paris this summer, Mbappé joked before kick-off that if he had let the club's Champions League form define his future he would have left a long time ago. It was an unfortunate slip of the tongue from the French superstar, but it is masked by painful truth for the €180 million man.
This is no team. It is an impressive gathering of mega stars, that is for sure, and Mbappé, Messi, and co. have been allowed to thrive in Ligue 1. But, if they are to succeed against truly great teams such as Bayern or Real Madrid in Europe, something needs to change at PSG - or their superstars may have to look elsewhere to taste Champions League success.