Group B: PSG ready to finally make Champions League mark

Paris Saint-Germain kicks off its latest bid for Champions League glory at Celtic on Tuesday bolstered by the big-money signings of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. While Qatar's billions produced four consecutive French titles from 2013-2016, that form has yet to translate to European competition.

PSG stars Edinson Cavani, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar celebrate   -  Getty Images

 

Paris Saint-Germain kicks off its latest bid for Champions League glory at Celtic on Tuesday bolstered by the big-money signings of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.

The French giant will be hoping that its lavish close-season spending can help finally achieve its Qatari owners' dream of lifting the European Cup.

 

PSG responded to last season's disappointments of losing the Ligue 1 title to Monaco and its stunning Champions League last-16 defeat at Barcelona, by smashing the world record transfer fee with the 222 million-euro ($267m) signing of Neymar from Barca.

PREVIEW:

GROUP A: Mourinho 'confident' in Lindelof';

Group C: Atletico, Roma ready for key CL clash

Group D: Allegri wants 'aggressive' Juventus at Camp Nou

While Qatar's billions produced four consecutive French titles from 2013-2016, that form has yet to translate to European competition.

PSG's last, and only, Champions League semifinal appearance was in 1995, with four straight last-eight exits followed by the harrowing 6-1 second-leg loss at the Camp Nou earlier this year, having beaten Barca 4-0 in the first game.

But with the additions of Neymar and Mbappe, hopes are high that Unai Emery's men can put their continental troubles to bed. "We are more than ready for the Champions League," said defender Thomas Meunier after a 5-1 thrashing of Metz on Friday.

CELTIC v PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
  • PSG has not progressed further than the quarterfinals in the last five seasons. Its best performance to date is a semifinal in 1994-95 when it was eliminated by AC Milan.
  • Neymar has delivered 12 assists over the last two seasons of the Champions League, three more than any other player (Cristiano Ronaldo, 9). He has also had a hand in 10 goals (four goals, six assists) in four Champions League games versus Celtic.
  • Dani Alves has more goals (10) and more assists (25) than any other full-back in the Champions League since his debut with Sevilla in 2007-08. He is the second Brazilian to have played in 100 games in the competition after Roberto Carlos.
  • Brendan Rodgers has won only one of his 12 group games as manager in the Champions League, with that sole victory coming against Ludogorets (2-1) in September 2014 when he was in charge of Liverpool.
  • Celtic has won only one of its last 14 Champions League games (D3 L10), this came in October 2013 against Ajax.

"We are a very good group, we can see that on the bench today with all the options we have. Every footballer plays for the Champions League, and with the team we have this year, we must show the world that we want to go further than in previous years."

Teenage sensation Mbappe joined from Monaco on deadline day on a season-long loan, with an option to buy for a fee that could reach a staggering 180 million euros.

"It's too early to say (how far we can go), we haven't even played yet," said Mbappe, who scored on his debut against Metz. “We have a good team and a lot of confidence, but we know that there's still a lot of work to do. We'll go to Glasgow to win and to start well. I've always said that the Champions League is a special competition, it is the competition for the big players and where we see the big players."

'Special night' in store

PSG will have its European credentials tested by what promises to be a spine-tingling atmosphere at Parkhead, as Celtic looks to cause an upset in Group B after an underwhelming return to the Champions League group stages last season.

Brendan Rodgers' men have gone from strength to strength since the turn of the year, and are unbeaten in their last 54 domestic matches.

"What we've learned from our first game of the Champions League last year is that we're not going to be as passive," said Rodgers.

"They're (PSG) a world away from where we're at in terms of finances but it's going to be an incredible night.

"It's the first game of the Champions League against one of the great teams now of the competition, it will be another special night at Celtic Park.

"We'll look forward to the challenge and we'll recover well and prepare well for it."

PSG's fellow wannabe member of the European elite, Manchester City, came unstuck with a 3-3 draw at Celtic Park last season, and the Scottish champion still has the potential to be a danger on home turf.

While Celtic won the 1967 European Cup with a 15-man squad made purely of players born within 30 miles of the stadium, Paris has flung an expensive net far and wide in an attempt to emulate the likes of the 'Lisbon Lions'.

Over 50 years since Celtic's finest hour, PSG is fed up of waiting to dine at football's top table.

BAYERN MUNICH v ANDERLECHT

Stats

    This is the 20th time in the last 21 seasons that Bayern Munich has qualified for the Champions League, the only exception coming in 2007-08. It has reached the semis in six of the last eight seasons.

    Bayern Munich has won 20 of its last 25 Champions League group games (L5), with its last draw coming in November 2012 against Valencia (1-1).

    Anderlecht has never made the knockout stages of the Champions League in its 11 previous participations.

    Robert Lewandowski has scored 40 goals in 61 Champions League games since his debut in the competition in 2011-12. Over that period, only Cristiano Ronaldo (77 goals) and Lionel Messi (57 goals) have found the net on more occasions.

    Anderlecht has won only three of its last 37 Champions League games (D10 L24). It has also only kept four clean sheets in those 37 games.