Leaving three forwards to float about and occasionally pull off a trick may be enough in Ligue 1 but not when it comes to elite level. How have PSG not learned?
A net 750m spent in eight years and thats all you get? Success without money is all but impossible in the modern game, but wealth brings no guarantees. Football still has the capacity to make the richest of men seem very foolish if they pursue glamour at the expense of substance a heartening moral, so long as you dont think too closely about the source of the wealth that is paying for Neymar to squander his immense talents in an entitled fug of self-indulgence.
For Paris Saint-Germain, there has been no development. The lessons of last season have not been learned. All the flaws that undid PSG against Real Madrid in last seasons last 16 were there again at Anfield on Tuesday. Leaving three forwards high up the pitch to float about and occasionally pull off a trick may be enough in Ligue1 given PSG have begun the season with five successive wins and have scored at least three goals in every game, it demonstrably is but it is no way to play against proper opposition. The Air Jordan branding may be intended to add an extra shot of glamour, but in context it appears to say little more than: Please nutmeg me while I appeal half-heartedly for offside.
There is an irony to this, of course, that PSGs domination of the French league is precisely what prevents them being truly competitive in Europe. This is the great paradox of the financial structures of the modern game and it is one of the factors that will probably lead, sooner rather than later, to some sort of pan-national super-league. When there is no challenge, its only natural complacency sets in. When there are no predators at home, why would you flee the red-faced men with sticks and guns? When there is no peril in your league, why would you bother to track Trent Alexander-Arnold?
Is Thomas Tuchel happy with this? This, after all, is a man who grew up in the hard-pressing world of the Bundesliga. He was regarded as the new Jrgen Klopp, a manager forged at a similar school. He is somebody who dined with Pep Guardiola after his Dortmund side had lost 5-1 against Bayern, whose love of the theory of juego de posicin outweighed the sting of defeat. There can be no version of that conception of the game that features three men standing 50 yards upfield from their midfield, barely raising a jog as a defender surges past them again. PSG football is not Tuchel football; it may not even be football.
Questions were asked as to why Gareth Southgate had opted to go and watch Mason Mount play for Derby against Blackburn in the Championship rather than seeing Alexander-Arnold take on Neymar, or Jordan Henderson look to impose himself against the grandees of France, but he probably made the right choice. This was no more a gauge of their talents than Einstein doing his times tables would have been of his.