Football

Time for PSG and City to shine in Europe

PSG, Man City have oil-rich backers, but the biggest prize remains elusive

QUARTER-FINAL, 1ST LEG

PARIS ST GERMAIN v MAN CITY

(Tomorrow, 2.40am, Singtel TV Ch 112 & StarHub TV Ch 212)

They are not so different, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City.

Bankrolled by Middle Eastern sovereignty, money has bought them everything that their hearts could desire - the finest players, bespoke managers and domestic success.

Everything except the one thing they crave most.

Throwing money at their problems may have remedied a host of ills for both clubs but, as often happens with those who lead a charmed life, it will never satisfy an insatiable appetite for something that money cannot buy.

Far more than a place in the Champions League semi-finals is at stake when the inaugural petrodollar derby takes place tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

Relevance stands at the heart of this meeting between the financial muscles of Abu Dhabi and Qatar.

Neither, for all their wealth, have been capable of forcing their way onto the European elite's top table in the same way that they have asserted their domestic dominance.

For too long, they have pressed their noses forlornly against the window while the likes of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid continue to lead the celebrations in the party that is Uefa's flagship competition.

MONEY NO GUARANTEE

Even paupers like Atletico Madrid have been welcomed in from the cold in recent times.

Football, however, seems increasingly immune to the charms of the nouveau riche.

That is now set to change, with at least one of the high-rollers guaranteed to finally step up to the plate and do battle with their all-conquering contemporaries.

But, regardless of the victors, the eternal questions will persist.

Four years separate the rebuilding processes of City and PSG, but making their mark at the business end of the Champions League remains a work in progress for both.

In the case of Manchester's "noisy neighbours", this is a moment that they have been building towards for over eight years - spending, sacking and stumbling along the way.

But devoid of Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure, any designs Manuel Pellegrini may have had of a glorious farewell tour have been firmly unseated.

The English Premier League title fell by the wayside last month, following an insipid stalemate with Norwich City.

Only the Champions League offers any semblance of salvation for the outgoing Chilean.

PSG have historically fared little better in the competition.

Even blessed with a two-time European champion in Carlo Ancelotti and the mercurial talent of Zlatan Ibrahimovic at their disposal, they have failed to progress beyond the quarter-final stage in each of the past three seasons.

COMING SHORT

For the newly-crowned Ligue 1 champions, it has been a simple case of inadequacy - others have simply been better.

Last season's humbling by eventual winners Barcelona was a particular case in point.

Buying anyone and anything that stands in their way has taken them only so far.

Others will always have resources that cannot be measured by monetary value.

Valiantly, City have tried to replicate the Barcelona model - building foundations designed to allow Pep Guardiola to emulate his former club's success, both on and off the pitch.

"Dream Bigger" is the edict which currently adorns the Parc des Princes ahead of tomorrow morning's clash.

When all is said and done, one finally will. How long the victors can stay among the elite remains to be seen.


By the numbers 1

The two clubs have met each other in Europe only once before, playing out a 0-0 draw in Manchester in the Uefa Cup in December 2008. Just three players - Joe Hart, Pablo Zabaleta and Vincent Kompany - remain in the City squad from that day, while none of the PSG players are still at the club.

Fuelled by petrodollars

NASSER AL-KHELAIFI
  • Qatar Sports Investments bought the club in 2011 and spent 548 million euros ($843m) on players in their five seasons, while offering wages better than pretty much every other club in Europe.
  • Edinson Cavani (£55m) and David Luiz (£50m) are two of their most expensive signings ever, while another 100m euros have been spent this season.
  • The heavy investments have made PSG virtually untouchable in Ligue 1, where they have won four titles in a row. This season, the title was wrapped up with eight games remaining and they have a 25-point lead over second-placed Monaco.
  • Their domestic success has not been replicated in the Champions League, as PSG have been knocked out at the quarter-finals in each of the last three seasons.
  • PSG are less interested with growing the club off the field than Man City have been. They are rated as the 12th most valuable club in the world (£437m), despite having the fourth biggest revenue.

SHEIKH MANSOUR
  • The Abu Dhabi United Group took over Manchester City in September 2008, spending £120 million in 2008 and 2
  • 009. Two years later, they won the FA Cup 
- their first trophy in 35 years.
  • A first league title since 1968 followed in 2011-12, when Sergio Aguero scored a last-second goal against Queens Park Rangers at the Etihad Stadium to pip Manchester United to the title on the season's final day.
  • City then won another title and the League Cup in 2013/2014 under Manuel Pellegrini.
  • In eight seasons, the Abu Dhabi group have easily spent over £1 billion.
  • About £850m has been spent on transfer fees, including a club record £55m for Kevin de Bruyne last summer.
  • The owners have also invested £200m on the Etihad Campus, a state-of-the-art training facility, and expanded the Etihad Stadium.
  • Deloitte values City as the fifth most valuable club in the world, with an estimated worth of £950m. - Wire Services.
eplChampions League