Owen Hargreaves has suggested Paris Saint-German may need to follow the Argentina “blueprint” and build around Lionel Messi if they are to finally win the Champions League.
The former England international thinks tactically, PSG have previously failed to win Europe’s most coveted prize due to an imbalance of star names in attacking areas who don’t work hard enough for the team.
The French champions take on Bayern Munich in the last 16 of this year’s competition with the first leg taking place in Paris, a match which can be seen live on BT Sport.
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Ahead of the encounter, Hargreaves also rued the fact they had to come face to face so early in the competition with both teams among the favourites to lift the trophy.
“I think they’re both on the same level,” he told BT Sport. “It’s a shame this game is happening in the last 16 because they could both be finalists.
“Any team with Neymar, Messi and Mbappe you have to respect. Argentina won the World Cup and Lionel Scaloni built the whole team around Messi. We’ve never seen a team win the Champions League with three absolute world stars. And that’s the problem PSG have had, they’ve never won the Champions League.
“The way Messi won the World Cup almost shows the blueprint, so it’ll be interesting to see how PSG do against Bayern. You can’t carry three players who won’t work out of possession. Messi and Mbappe don’t really track back full stop. Neymar does a little bit but the others don’t do anything. Against Bayern that can’t be a good recipe.”
Hargreaves, who won the Champions League with Bayern in 2001, is well aware of the pressure to succeed with the Bavarian club.
The club has lifted the trophy five times, most recently in 2020 coincidentally beating PSG in the final, but have suffered back-to-back quarter-final exits in the subsequent seasons.
Despite leading the club to the Bundesliga title in his debut season and currently top of the table again, the expectation on Julian Nagelsmann is to perform well in Europe and deliver another Champions League title.
Hargreaves hopes these issues don’t prove too much of a distraction against PSG, as he believes elimination could prove costly for Nagelsmann.
“Nagelsmann is a great coach but with the Neuer injury and the goalkeeper coach situation, politically there’s a lot of pressure on him and he needs a big result,” he adds.
“If Bayern have another early knockout like they did against Villarreal last season everyone’s going to be upset. In a way it’s season defining.
“Everyone in Munich realises that Naglesmann is a super coach tactically. The fact of the matter is that it’s all about results. He did well with RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim but the expectations are different at Bayern.
“You can lose to PSG and everyone at Bayern understands that. The biggest problem is going out early two years on the bounce with a young manager. The expectations at Bayern are just different. There’ll be a lot of pressure because they don’t accept mediocrity. The Champions League is the main priority for Bayern – winning the league and the cup isn’t enough.”
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