The UEFA Champions League has reached the business end of the competition. It's knockout football. There is no margin for error, there can be no more slip-ups. Ahead of the round of 16, we take a closer look at how PSG made it through the group stage and assess their chances of marching into the quarter-finals.
PSG lost their chance to finish as Group A winners after they slipped to an unexpected draw at home to Ludogorets on Matchday 6. Two fiercely competitive draws with Arsenal had the French champions on course to top Group A but only an injury-time equaliser from Angel Di Maria against the Bulgarians ensured they arrive in the round of 16 undefeated.
The Parisians sealed qualification for the round of 16 in dramatic fashion as a last-minute Thomas Meunier wonderstrike saw them grab a 2-1 victory in Basel. With the match ticking into stoppage time, the ball dropped to the defender on the edge of the box and his superbly struck volley flew into the top corner to spark wild celebrations among PSG’s travelling pack of supporters.
The outcome of Group A was always going to rely heavily on the outcome of PSG’s two clashes with Arsenal and, after being held to a 1-1 draw at home, the French champions were up against it in London when the Gunners struck twice to reverse Edinson Cavani’s opener. PSG rallied, however, and clinched a dramatic draw as they forced a late Alex Iwobi own goal.
Only the unstoppable Lionel Messi denied Uruguay international Cavani from ending the group stage as the UCL’s top marksmen. The big question facing Unai Emery’s side this season was how they would deal with the loss of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. They needn’t have feared, however, as Cavani has relished in his role as the cub’s star man follow the big Swede’s departure to Manchester United, hitting six UCL goals, including two extremely important strikes versus Arsenal.
PSG’s failure to win the group proved costly as they were drawn against Messi’s Barcelona in the round of 16. The two sides meet in a knockout contest for the third time in the past five seasons, with PSG yet to come out on top. Stopping Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar is a tall task, but if they can finally get over the line against the Catalans then PSG must be considered serious UCL contenders.