John Brewin: Liverpool and PSG are used to exchanging jealous glances

Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool meet in Paris on Wednesday night and they both seem to have what the other desires to the most…


Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain have both done something the other club would really like to do.

The ease with which PSG cruise to the French league title is something that belongs in Liverpool’s past, a domestic dominance that is almost three long decades ago.

And for PSG, the aim of the entire Qatari-funded project is the type of heritage in European competition that Liverpool can celebrate, and which was embellished in reaching last season’s final.

The furthest the Parisians have reached remains the 1994-5 season when David Ginola, George Weah and Rai, Socrates’ younger brother, were the stars.

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On Wednesday, as Liverpool return to Paris, the scene of their 1981 European Cup, a question of priorities may be at hand. Jurgen Klopp’s team can win the Premier League, but how realistic a prospect is that?

This season, they are closest to Manchester City, within two points, but to claim a first league title since 1990, probably just about everything will have to go right.

Does that make the Champions League a better trophy prospect? Very possibly so.

Beyond City, for whom winning the trophy is the aim of the Pep Guardiola-led Abu-Dhabu-funded project, the field looks quite open, with each of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich having problems this season.

Perhaps Juventus and Cristiano Ronaldo have a decent chance, but their loss to Manchester United hardly suggested a team without fallibility.

PSG would really like to be part of that conversation, but there has to be a continuing distrust of their ability to last the distance. They were only undone at Anfield in September by Roberto Firmino’s 90th winner in a 3-2 defeat, but in truth would have been very lucky to have got away with a draw.

That they were level at 2-2 was a result of Kylian Mbappe’s brilliance, which pinpoints the differences between the two clubs: individuality versus team ethic.

The contrast between Brazilians Neymar and Firmino embodies those differences.

In Paris, individuals like Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Neymar are indulged like princes, while Firmino is not allowed to get away with merely being a gifted player who turns it on at will.

He is asked to work like a Trojan, leading the line and the high press against Liverpool’s opponents.

At Anfield, Neymar swanned around like a player without portfolio, and produced next to nothing.

Klopp is a manager who has lately made something of a midfield workhorse of Xherdan Shaqiri, allowed to weave his magic while committing to winning the ball back, such that former Stoke teammate Charlie Adam has had to go back on his opinion that the Swiss star is a luxury played .

“He’s got in and hasn’t looked back now,” admitted Adam on Sunday.

Thomas Tuchel, Klopp’s successor at Borussia Dortmund, and someone who shares plenty of ideas with Liverpool’s boss, is trying to change the culture but he may have to wait until Cavani, now 31, is moved on, and Neymar is cashed in elsewhere.

Predecessor Unai Emery, who has done so much to revive Arsenal this season, struggled to win over the player power at the Parc de Princes.

PSG breeze through Ligue 1, having conceded just one goal since September and won every single match to be 15 points clear after just 14 matches, but that does not help in Europe.

Two draws with Napoli, the first, at home, snatched by Angel di Maria’s late goal against the run of play, suggest there is some fighting quality. Anfield was their only defeat of the season, but without Liverpool’s shock defeat at Red Star Belgrade last time out, they would be in severe danger of crashing out at the group stage.

Five points from four matches is not a good return for a team with a market value approaching €900m and such high-faulting ambitions.

A Liverpool win takes them through to the knock-outs, and leaves PSG in real trouble. Should Liverpool lose, they can still qualify if Napoli can be beaten by two clear goals.

With Liverpool playing eight matches in December, starting with the Merseyside derby on Sunday, taking in matches against Manchester United and Arsenal before then facing City in a potential title showdown on January 3, Klopp will want to get the Champions League job completed as quickly as possible.

It suggests he will go full bore in Paris, though The Reds have been noticeably less full on the throttle this season.

It has been suggested that energy levels are being conserved for later in the season and a challenge for that elusive title where Liverpool have previously pegged out during the deep winter months.

PSG have no such worries, but their designs on a successful season might well be decided by what happens on Wednesday night.

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