Champions League Group A Recap: Is It Time to Consider PSG a Real Contender?

Posted By Chops on November 7, 2019

On Wednesday, PSG secured passage to the knockout rounds of the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League with a 1-0 win over Club Brugge. At 4-0-0, the Parisians are perfect in the competition.

Look at that below table. They’ve scored 10 and conceded ZERO goals. Even Manchester City, in their annual cakewalk of a bracket, have conceded twice and dropped points. No other UCL squad can claim 4 clean sheets.

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2019-20 UEFA Champions League Group A Standings

Real Madrid42119547
Club Brugge402228-62

Are PSG a legitimate Champions League contender?

At this point, you have to say “yes,” right? ddsmakers agree, as they’ve leap-frogged Liverpool (+650) to third favorite at +600.

It’s certainly fair to be skeptical. We’ve seen this drill before with PSG: impressive group play followed by Round of 16 flame-out. However, something about this squad just feels different. O

  1. They’re actually flying under the radar. Neymar has the ability to shift all focus on him both on and off the pitch. The Brazilian picked up a hamstring injury 12 minutes into an international match with Nigeria last month. He hasn’t seen the pitch since. While he should be back soon, Neymar has only played five games for PSG this campaign. The club is doing fine without him, in part because…
  2. …Mauro Icardi has been awesome. Typically, Icardi hears about Neymar drama and says, “Hold my beer.” But the Argentinian has been solid and mostly drama-free at PSG. He’s netted four times in the UCL and displaced Edinson Cavani in the starting XI. Assuming Neymar comes back and is in form, the attacking trio of him, Icardi, and Kylian Mbappe is downright scary.
  3. Angel Di Maria is on fire. The 31 year-old Argentinian is having his best season since 2015-16. He’s got 2 goals and 3 assists in the UCL to go along with 4 & 5 in Ligue 1. If PSG can keep him fresh into next year, he’s a terror in midfield.

This is PSG. Some dramabomb could drop at any moment. Cavani can’t be happy and may start making more noise. Icardi could steal someone else’s wife. Neymar could, well, be Neymar. The Mbappe rumors to Liverpool and Real Madrid could be a major spring of 2020 distraction. But for now, PSG should be considered top contenders.

What about Real Madrid?

Don’t read too much into their Wednesday 6-0 home paddling of Galatasaray. They were at a negative gd before the 6 goal outburst. RM will advance. But they’ll continue to be the wildly inconsistent bunch we’ve seen so far this season.

Los Blancos could be in for Round of 16 exit. They’re going to finish second in the group. That means they’ll be matched against a group winner in the Round of 16. We know it won’t be Manchester City as they’ll just continue to pay off UEFA officials for securing the easiest opponent. Would RM be favored to get past Manchester City, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, or Juventus? Nope. And while they likely would be favored against Chelsea/Ajax by oddsmakers, neither are favorable match-ups.

Group A Odds to Advance

Top 2 odds for Club Brugge and Galatasaray are now off the board. PSG and Real Madrid are going through. Over on DraftKings Sportsbook, PSG are -10000 to win the group. RM are +2500.

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Chops is the executive producer of High Press Soccer. He's an unabashed Liverpool fan who will absolutely let that bias seep into his reporting and analysis.

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