Image courtesy of Alessio Bragadini's Flickr page - PSG: https://www.flickr.com/photos/abragad/1207862922/in/photolist-2QJByN-83NBFH-j52j6e-gnz2Gb-pcQKBA-8pgsMG-pcSKG4-qFHrY-qFHrR-qFHrT-qFHrQ-8YDmVS-8YAh1k-8YSaA1-8YSesw-8YDiMb-8YDk1b-8YAhhz-8YDit1-8YAjTM-8YPdb8-8YPcR4-8YSg75-8YAiFg-8YAjrD-8YAmVn-8YSg53-8YDofW-8YP4ca-8YAi9T-8YAgmH-8YP5F6-8YDkGC-8YAmvg-xGWzt5-8YSd4G-8YDoxU-oWfhUF-8YDmqh-8YP9NR-8YP7oc-8YP94i-8YAgHD-8YDmd1-8YDkfN-8YS7eo-8YAmGM-8YAkMi-8YPdAB-8YSdQE
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A couple of weeks ago, I got a joyful email from my brother, who excitedly informed me that Paris St. Germain (PSG), France's premiere football team (European football that is, which is to say soccer here in the United States) had pulled off a truly stunning, and seemingly historical win against a traditional football powerhouse in Barcelona.
In the first of two matches, Barcelon visited PSG at the Stade de France in St. Denis, just on the outskirts of Paris. Barcelona has long been established as one of the premiere powerhouse clubs in the sport, and so many expected them to come up with the goods against PSG. However, PSG showed up and played very impressively, dominating Barcelona in a rather surprising 4-0 rout.
The fact that they won ws not in and of itself surprising, so much as that they seemed to truly crush Barcelona. It seemed to bode well, as my brother mentioned, because they now had a comfortable 4 goal margin for the second game, which Barcelona was to host.
Well, that game took place last night, and indeed, things were looking good for PSG despite trailing 3-1. After all, they had won the earlier meeting, 4-0, and even a 3-1 loss in Barcelona would see PSG move on.
Yes, it looked good alright, until the final minutes. when PSG inexplicably had a collapse reminiscent of the Atlanta Falcons in the last Super Bowl, giving up a quick flurry of scores, allowing three goals in the final minutes to ultimately suffer a devastating 6-1 loss. Barcelona has managed to overcome that four goal deficit and, with the 6-1 win, now scored more goals to move onto the next round of the Champions League Round of 16.
PSG definitely blew a chance to establish themselves firmly as one of the elite clubs of Europe in their own right, and those doubts will now continue to linger for some time. That kind of late game collapse, much like the Falcons collapse in the Super Bowl last month, will follow this franchise around for quite some time.
There are several ways that this can go now, but PSG will need to find it in them to bounce back, to work on focusing and getting better for the next time around, because the window of opportunity in sports tends to close shockingly quickly when the time comes.
As my brother mentioned, it does always appear to be the same few clubs in European football who dominate, with all others seemingly always on the outside, looking in. He mentioned the clubs specifically - Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus and the two Milan clubs.
There are some very well-established clubs here in North American professional sports, as well. They have come to largely dominate their sport in similar fashion as these elite clubs, although my brother pointed out that in these North American sports, they do tend to at least have some bad seasons every now and then. Probably the most dominant team right now would be the New England Patriots, but I personally remember them being horrible in the late 1980's through most of the first half of the 1990's. The Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Green Bay Packers would likely be the other teams who have traditionally tended to dominate, but each of those clubs have suffered through some mediocre seasons. Likewise in other sports, you have teams like the New York Yankees, the Montreal Canadiens, and the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers. But again, none of those teams have been especially impressive now in the last few seasons, so it is a break from the same old same old.
It annoys me when I hear that the former NBA commissioner said that his dream NBA Finals would be the Lakers versus the Lakers, and how they seem to get a lot of breaks, repeatedly receiving great, impact players for virtually nothing. When you see blatant favoritism like that, it makes you wonder. But when I look at the European clubs, and how they seem to have an exclusive reign of championships between them, with the few exceptions proving the rule, it makes me glad that there is evidently more parity in the North American sports leagues than their is in European football!