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Could This PSG Rebuild Be The One That Works? An Opening Day Champions League Win Shows Reason For Optimism | TheSportsDay Could This PSG Rebuild Be The One That Works? An Opening Day Champions League Win Shows Reason For Optimism | TheSportsDay

Could this PSG rebuild be the one that works? An opening day Champions League win shows reason for optimism

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PARIS — Paris Saint-Germain are up and running in the UEFA Champions League (you can catch all the action on Paramount+) this season and their latest rebuild perhaps has the best chance of success yet — at least based on Tuesday’s evidence. A 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund got Group F off to an ideal start for the Ligue 1 titleholders with Kylian Mbappe and Achraf Hakimi’s goals pointing towards continental optimism.

PSG is known for their almost annual overhauls after European heartbreak, and this summer was no different with an entire raft of changes as Luis Enrique came in as head coach. However, this season’s French champions looked better against the Germans at Parc des Princes for being devoid of much of the star power that has weighed them down in the past.

It took until early in the second half to open the scoring in Paris, but Mbappe’s goal from the penalty spot was not undeserved for the hosts who had played with real swagger at times in the opening 45 as Dortmund were hanging on in moments. Hakimi doubling the lead less than 10 minutes later with a sublime effort after he was teed up by Vitinha felt logical given PSG’s superiority by then.

With Manuel Ugarte restored to midfield and captain Marquinhos back to marshal the defense, Les Parisiens looked more balanced, measured and purposeful than they did in a 3-2 home loss to OGC Nice in Ligue 1 just days before. Randal Kolo Muani as part of an all-French front three also made a big difference with the homes side suddenly capable of pressing after years without it.

Vitinha and teenage sensation Warren Zaire Emery were freed by Ugarte’s presence and the Portuguese midfielder hit the post in the first half before turning provider in the second for Hakimi’s solo effort. At times, it was reminiscent of the best possession-based play from the Laurent Blanc days when Zlatan Ibrahimovic dominated and Marco Verratti and Thiago Motta pulled the strings.

Of course, it is early days for PSG and Luis Enrique in his new role but the overriding takeaway from the first few games and weeks of this season is that the Spaniard is turning this Paris outfit into something totally different to recent years’ editions. He is also making them entirely more watchable as they exert greater control and mastery over their opponents.

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Mbappe is as key as ever, and stepped up to deliver the opener which finally broke the deadlock after stiff resistance from Edin Terzic’s men. However, PSG are now more than just their French superstar with Zaire Emery, Kolo Muani, Ousmane Dembele and Lucas Hernandez joining him to make a refreshing domestic core — a rarity under Qatari ownership.

Another major difference on the night in the capital was the Parc des Princes home crowd which had become thoroughly turned off by the end of Verratti, Neymar and Lionel Messi’s time with the club yet was transformed for this one. Dortmund’s passionate away support was matched by a game-long show of newfound enthusiasm from the Paris crowd which aids in European games massively.

There is a long way to go in Group F and tougher tests will come in Dortmund but also Milan and Newcastle but this was an ideal start to the continental campaign for PSG and one which should signal a different French outfit to keep an eye on. Luis Enrique is already seeing shoots of regeneration and further improvement will be expected as the term wears on.

Olympique de Marseille at home next in Ligue 1 is an ideal next fixture to build on a showing like this given their quality and the sense of occasion that Le Classique brings. The chaos engulfing OM also lends them a wildcard element which will challenge Les Parisiens to better their latest showing and to continue developing this new and exciting dynamic. 

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