Depending on how you look at it, the bottle of PSG is half full or half empty. The last-minute penalty that earned him a draw against Newcastle gave new impetus to Luis Enrique’s project, but whatever happens in two weeks, the Spanish coach has lost credit in the double confrontation with the English.
The feeling of relief that flooded the Parc des Princes when Kylian Mbappé scored the maximum penalty caused by Ousmane Dembelé and Poland’s Szymon Marciniak only blew the whistle when he saw it in slow motion on the VAR, As the hours passed, it dissipated.
PSG dominated, especially in the second half, creating chances and not losing faith until the end. But the truth is that he was up to his neck in water until it came to a game in which more than one thought the referee’s decision was too harsh.
Against the seventh-placed team in the English league, a team that was full of losses in Paris and with a poor record away at Saint James Park, Mbappé’s side were rescued at the bell and for a minute the crisis would reach stratospheric proportions.
In a team where only Europe matters, President Nasser Al Khalaefi’s face a few minutes before the end summed up the moral state of the city: panic could be read in his eyes.
The Qatari president returned to the stadium after knee surgery and shared a box with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin. With whom relations have been fluid since PSG opposed the Super League project promoted by other major European clubs.
On the final stretch he left the penalty area and stood watching as Mbappé equalized and left his fate in Europe in the hands of his team.
Until this moment, Al Khelaifi saw his side show more willingness to overcome the young English side that gave them trouble in the first half, scoring a goal from Alexander Isak After a poor save from Gianluigi Donnarumma, he did nothing but stop the English attack in the second half.
It’s worth it that they created chances, didn’t give up and that goalkeeper Nick Pope was the visitors’ hero. But PSG showed defensive inconsistency, a lack of creativity in midfield and an accelerated and feverish attack that relied more on the quality of its players than on a defined strategy.
Mbappé was quick to reassure the media that so many opportunities should not be missed, but the French star did not hide the rest of the team’s problems.
At the gates of the Parc des Princes, the fans had a double feeling: they narrowly avoided the abyss, but the Parisians’ proposal does not seem to be enough to face bigger rivals than Newcastle.
The complexes resurfaced in a team that has seen some of the best players in the world parade through its dressing rooms and that now appears to be entirely in the hands of Mbappé.
The multimillion-dollar project has only managed 7 points in 5 European games. Although it is the group of death, none of the rivals have the financial weight of the French.
“Against City or Madrid they would have crushed us,” summarized Philippe, a partner in the team. However, he did not hide his confidence in qualifying for the round of 16.
Luis Enrique had the opportunity to get the standings back on track in his stadium, where his team was most solid, and now he has to face a Borussia already in the standings at Signal Iduna Park But he is no longer convinced and can secure first place.
Away from Paris, the French team was less convincing, suffered two defeats in this edition of the Champions League and needs to improve in this chapter to avoid their first group stage exit since the Qataris landed 12 years ago.
Only victory guarantees them to move forward. A draw would see them rely on Newcastle not beating Milan at their stadium, and even if they lose they can progress if the other two members of the group draw.
Luis Enrique gained time which he must use to repair a credit that has been tarnished since his emphatic defeat at Saint James Park in early October.
Since then they had won six times, scored 20 goals and conceded just two, which took them to the top of their league and gave them a good position in Europe. A record that remains intact through a controversial handball in the last minute and the wait for a favorable result in Dortmund.