Tuchel the latest victim of elite expectations

Thomas Tuchel won league titles in his two full seasons at Paris St Germain and led them to this year’s Champions League final, but that was not enough for the ambitious Ligue 1 club. Reuters.

They sacked the German on Christmas Eve, confirming the move on Tuesday with a short statement thanking him for his work.

Although there may have been other factors at play, such as a poor relationship with the board, Tuchel is essentially the latest victim of the exaggerated expectations at Europe’s elite clubs, with winning the Champions League apparently the only thing that matters.

Tuchel is not alone. Maurizio Sarri led Juventus to the Serie A title last season in his first campaign in charge, yet was sacked the day after they were knocked out of the Champions League.

Bayern Munich have won eight successive Bundesliga titles since 2012-13, but in that time have employed five different coaches in their quest for more.

The domestic dominance of clubs like Bayern, PSG and Juventus is now so entrenched that the national league appears to be little more than an inconvenience.

At Qatari-owned PSG, it almost feels as if the season only starts in earnest when the Champions League knockout stage begins and ends with their elimination.

PSG have finished 13, 16 and 12 points ahead of the field respectively in their last three Ligue 1 campaigns, while in 2016 they ended up 31 points clear with a goal difference of 83.

This season — which is being played in unique circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic — they reached the Christmas break one point behind leading pair Olympique Lyonnais and Lille.

“The most important thing is that we are close to first in the table… one or two points is not much, we are capable of launching a run of wins,” Tuchel said this month.

PSG were taken over by Qatar Sports Investments in 2011 and have since spent over one billion euros ($1.22 billion) on transfers, including some of the biggest names in world football, and employed four different coaches yet still cannot get their hands on the Champions League trophy.

Not Enough

It has become something of a routine – too good for Ligue 1, not good enough to win Europe’s elite club trophy.

PSG were knocked out in the quarter-finals four times in a row between 2013 and 2016, losing on away goals to Barcelona and Chelsea, before being thumped 5-1 on aggregate by the Catalans and losing to Manchester City.

In 2017, they were on the wrong end of one of the most famous Champions League comebacks when, having beaten Barca 4-0 at home in their last-16 tie, they lost 6-1 in the return.

Real Madrid brushed past PSG 5-2 on aggregate at the same stage in 2017-18 and the French side also hit the buffers in the last 16 in 2018-19 when Manchester United snatched victory with a contentious stoppage-time penalty.

They did reach the final last season, only to lose 1-0 to Bayern Munich. Some feel the lack of competitive games in Ligue 1 is a hindrance to their Champions League dream.

“Ligue 1 matches are often settled in the first half and you don’t continue working at the same rhythm for the 90 minutes,” said another former player, Javier Pastore, during an interview with TyC Sports in his native Argentina.

“You notice that in the Champions League where you can’t sleep for a second. Sometimes in France, you can go for one month against teams which demand little effort.”

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