PSG and Champions League capitulations. The two go hand in hand. Wednesday night brought the latest in this ongoing series, with the Parisians surrendering a 2-0 lead at half-time of their second leg against Real Madrid.
A second-half Karim Benzema hat-trick, thanks in no small part to some shocking defensive errors, mean that PSG's wait for a Champions League crown will yet again persist for another year.
It's not the first time that this has happened to them, and their recent history in the Champions League doesn't reflect well on their squad of superstars.
PSG collapse: Madrid episode latest in longstanding Champions League series
Kylian Mbappé. Marco Verratti. Neymar. Achraf Hakimi. Gianluigi Donnarumma. Lionel feckin' Messi. The list goes on of superstars in PSG's squad and, with so many names added last summer, it felt like they simply had to make further strides towards a Champions League title this season.
It's now 11 years since Qatari investment poured into the clubs and the galacticos began arriving, and the club has faltered on the biggest stage on numerous occasions since. Eight out of those 11 years have ended with Ligue 1 glory - but only once have they reached the Champions League final, and they lost that game in 2020 to Bayern Munich.
Many great teams have gone without winning the Champions League. Teams can be unlucky. Arsenal and Chelsea's sides in the early-to-mid-2000s scream out as examples of this. But PSG do not seem to fit that bracket for one reason and one reason only: they bring so much of their struggles onto themselves.
Madrid on Wednesday was not PSG's first collapse on this stage, and we'd hazard a guess that unless something dramatic changes at the club, it won't be the last. Many were quick to make links between PSG and comments made by Giorgio Chiellini in 2018 about the tendency of Tottenham to "bottle" it on the biggest stage.
Though some pointed out that then-Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino is now in charge in Paris, the tendency to collapse in the Champions League far predates Poch's appointment.
In 2016 came the acrimonious Remontada, when Barcelona incredibly came back from a 4-0 first leg deficit to win 6-1 at the Nou Camp, and 6-5 on aggregate in the last 16. Three of the Spanish side's goals came after the 88th minute, with Sergi Roberto netting the most desperate of lunges in the 95th to seal it for Barca.
🗣️ "The night after the goal, I couldn't sleep."
🔵🔴 When the 'remontada' dream became the reality - substitute Sergi Roberto makes history...@FCBarcelona | #UCL https://t.co/x4kpjIrxjj pic.twitter.com/DilM9kQPk8
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 9, 2020
It is the most outrageous of their series of capitulations, but perhaps the one in Barcelona is also somewhat forgivable. After all, that Barcelona team were defending European champions, and there have been countless remonstrations in the years since about the contentious refereeing that night that went Barca's way.
Of course, that doesn't excuse losing in that manner for PSG, but perhaps we can cut them some slack. If you're looking for the worst offender, look no further than March 2019 and their last-16 defeat to Manchester United.
Goals from Mbappé and Marquinhos gave them a 2-0 win at Old Trafford. No team had ever relinquished a two goal lead on away goals in Champions League history. This was a Manchester United team sitting a distant fourth in the Premier League, with an inexperienced interim manager, and a starting team which was a shadow of the English giants' former glory.
And yet, a 3-1 win in Paris led United to the quarter-finals, with an injury-time winner from Marcus Rashford completing the ignominy for PSG.
Three years today since Manchester United's famous late win in Paris - and the birth of "Ole's at the wheel."
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Even last year's semi-final defeat to Manchester City came with an element of PSG bringing about their own demise. They relinquished a 1-0 lead in the first leg, before receiving wild red cards in both legs to exit at the last four.
City would go on to lose the final to a weaker Chelsea side, leaving another year of questioning "what might have been" for PSG.
Wednesday's collapse against Real Madrid could only really be described as "astonishing". Seldom has a team looked more in control of a tie, with all the talk at half-time centering on the brilliance of Kylian Mbappé up front, and the midfield excellence of Marco Verratti and co.
And then, a horror show of a mistake from Gianluigi Donnarumma sent PSG spiraling and, within fifteen minutes, Karim Benzema had completed a hat-trick (with the help of another error from Marquinhos) to send the French side packing once more.
— Watch the UCL on LiveScore 🇮🇪 (@LiveScoreIE) March 9, 2022
This PSG side is among the most expensive and glamorous collections of players ever assembled on a football pitch. They have had the potential to go down as one of the winningest and most impressive sides in Champions League history in recent years.
But, instead, they have exited the knockout stages in acrimonious circumstances in four out of the last six seasons. Wednesday night should have been remembered for the renewed brilliance of Kylian Mbappé. Instead, it may come to be remembered as the night PSG firmly lost him to Real Madrid.
Maybe Giorgio Chiellini should come out and reattribute his quotes from 2018 to PSG, rather than Tottenham.
For now, the Parisians are left in shock, wondering how on earth they have yet again capitulated on the biggest stage of all.