Soccer-PSG re-enacting 'Groundhog Day' in yet another mediocre season

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Ligue 1 - Paris St Germain v Stade Rennes - Parc des Princes, Paris, France - March 19, 2023 Paris St Germain's Danilo Pereira looks dejected after the match REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS (Reuters) - Paris St Germain owners Qatar Sport Investments (QSI) have spent more than 1.5 billion euros ($1.60 billion) in transfers since they took over in 2011, yet coach Christophe Galtier has been blaming the club's miserable run on key absences.

PSG, who were knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich last month and eliminated from the French Cup by bitter rivals Olympique de Marseille in February, lost 2-0 to Stade Rennais on Sunday, their first home defeat in Ligue 1 in almost two years.

Instead of blaming Lionel Messi's poor performance or the Argentine's dubious behaviour as he walked straight to the dressing room while others, like Kylian Mbappe, went to greet the ever-supportive fans of the Boulogne kop, Galtier highlighted those who were missing.

"You have to put it in context - we were missing eight players, plus there was a compulsory substitution at halftime when Tim Pembele went off injured," said Galtier, who has been in charge since the beginning of the season.

Neymar's season is over with an ankle injury, centre backs Presnel Kimpembe and Marquinhos have also been injured, but the lack of creativity in midfield and attack was for everyone to see on Sunday as PSG lost their seventh game in 18 outings in the post-World Cup period.

The Ligue 1 title is almost guaranteed as they enjoy a seven-point lead over Marseille with 10 matches left in a season that could be dubbed the 'Groundhog Day' of European football.

PSG win the French title but stumble in Europe, unable to find the stability and club culture that has been helping the likes of Real Madrid, Liverpool, Bayern and others establish themselves as powerhouses on the continental stage.

Galtier has another year on his contract but he has not even started to turn the tables at PSG, never blaming his players despite some obvious shortcomings.

"The players were committed," said Galtier.

"But then, when you're 2-0 down against a team like Rennes, there can be a form of resignation."

His predecessors Thomas Tuchel and Mauricio Pochettino opted for a similar approach, also asking for time and patience before being sacked.

"I came here for a two-year project," said Galtier.

"Everyone is speculating about what will happen at the end of the season. The objective is to be champions. Will this defeat make the club officials think twice? Perhaps it will."

($1 = 0.9353 euros)

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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