Paris St Germain snatched their fifth French league title in six years in style on Sunday and won a fifth consecutive League Cup, yet it is their incapacity to set a European milestone that will mostly be remembered from their season.
PSG, who bought Brazil striker Neymar for a world record transfer fee of 222 million euros ($273.6 million) and also attracted French prodigy Kylian Mbappe, were knocked out in the last 16 of the Champions League by Real Madrid.
Spanish fullback Yuri Berchiche believes that Ligue 1 is to blame.
“The rivals of PSG are not strong enough,” he told Le Journal du Dimanche on Sunday.
“In Spain, the density allows Barcelona, Atletico, Real Madrid to be better prepared for the big European games. Suffering at the weekend is useful.”
PSG often barely broke a sweat throughout the season, winning 16 of their games with a three-goal-or-more margin as they extended their league unbeaten streak at home to 40 matches.
Previous champions Monaco, who are likely to finish second, were tamed four times by PSG — in the Trophy of Champions, the League Cup final and twice in Ligue 1.
They achieved that even without the full help of Neymar as the forward has been out with a foot injury since Feb. 25.
But in Cavani they have a lethal weapon as the Uruguay striker scored 25 goals in the league.
None of that mattered in the Champions League, however, as they were eliminated by Real 5-2 on aggregate after showing very little fighting spirit in the second leg at the Parc des Princes.
Coach Unai Emery, who led Sevilla to three consecutive Europa League titles from 2014-16, has been widely held responsible for the failure because of a supposed lack of authority in the dressing room.
The Spaniard’s contract expires at the end of the season and French media have been reporting that he will be replaced by former Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel.
Emery, however, is confident that this PSG team have what it takes to succeed in Europe.
“This team is very solid and I trust them for future success. First here, and in the Champions League,” he said.
“But for that we need more work, and patience.”
The lack of club culture is also a factor that might have been weighing on PSG, founded in 1970, in Europe’s elite club competition.
“To win something, the most important thing is the club, its vision, its competence, its rules and its choices. Only after comes the team,” former AC Milan coach Arrigo Sacchi said.
“I have the feeling that at PSG, this hierarchy is not respected.”