Paris Saint-Germain reworked their squad in spectacular fashion over summer and can measure their potential on Tuesday against Manchester City – who ended their Champions League hopes in clinical fashion last season.
Tuesday’s Group A clash offers a repeat of last season’s semi-final which saw City come out on top in both legs, 2-1 in Paris then 2-0 in Manchester.
They went on to lose the final to Premier League rivals Chelsea but at least picked up their domestic title, unlike PSG who lost their crown to Lille.
That heralded a fresh round of investment from PSG’s Qatari backers as Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma and Georginio Wijnaldum joined Lionel Messi in arriving in Paris on spectacular free transfers.
Defender Ramos has had an injury-hit start to his stay in France and Messi is also a doubt for the game with a knee issue. But PSG, on the back of eight consecutive wins to start Ligue 1, are full of confidence.
“We’re going into a new competition with the Champions League on Tuesday and we have a good team against us in Manchester City but the mentality is good,” said coach Mauricio Pochettino after Saturday’s 2-0 win over Montpellier.
“The players needed to put in so much effort in the past few weeks and of course they need to rest and prepare in the best conditions and arrive in good condition to compete as well as we can.”
City defender Ruben Dias is hopeful Argentine great Messi is available, telling the Manchester Evening News he “is a phenomenal player and as a professional, you want to play against all those sorts of names.
“But whether it’s Messi, [Kylian] Mbappe, Neymar or [Mauro] Icardi, PSG have amazing strength in depth and no matter who it is we face, it’ll be a tough test.”
City are second in the Premier League, one point behind Liverpool after an impressive weekend win at Chelsea.
“It was kind of a final, but I think it is still very early,” said Gabriel Jesus, who got the only goal in the 1-0 triumph. “But for the feeling of the team, the sensation, the ambition, it is very important.”
RB Leipzig take on Club Brugge in the other game.
In Group B AC Milan play their first Champions League home match in seven years against Atletico Madrid while Group D has an intriguing encounter as 13-time record champions Real Madrid host Moldovan minnows Sheriff, who opened with a win over Shakhtar Donetsk.
On Wednesday Barcelona will look to bounce back from their Group E humbling at home to Bayern Munich when they visit Benfica when Dynamo Kiev head to Germany.
And in Group F, Cristiano Ronaldo can break former goalkeeper Iker Casillas’ long-standing record of 177 Champions League appearances when Manchester United host Villarreal in a rematch of last season’s Europa League final.
“It’s about his longevity, sustainability, professionalism and quality,” United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said of the Portuguese attacking star.