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Feb 17, 2014

Is PSG a Champions League threat?

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has tallied a Ligue 1-high 19 goals this season for Paris Saint-Germain.

Similar to its string of dominance between 1993 and 1998, an infusion of cash has once again made Paris Saint-Germain a force within French football. The team has spent more than 250 million euros in transfers since the 2011-12 season, with the clear expectation of not only providing multiple domestic titles but also expanding its footprint throughout Europe.

The former objective is essentially complete, as PSG holds a five-point advantage over rival Monaco and is poised to win a second consecutive Ligue 1 title. However, the latter project continues to be an uphill climb. Since officially becoming a club in 1970, PSG can count its 1996 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup trophy as its only mark of success in European competition.

The return of the Champions League this week is an opportunity for PSG to break through that European barrier, as the club faces a round of 16 matchup against Bundesliga's Bayer Leverkusen. At first glance, it may look like this is an opponent PSG can easily overcome, but the club’s lack of domestic competition combined with an over-reliance on star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a propensity for turning the ball over are significant hurdles that could prevent PSG from advancing to the quarterfinals.

Here is a look at PSG’s strengths, key weaknesses and likelihood of making a deep Champions League run.

Putting success in context

PSG is a...