Mauricio Pochettino has picked out holders Chelsea as Paris Saint-Germain’s “team to beat” as they vie to lift the Champions League for the first time.
The Blues were hugely impressive en route to defeating Manchester City in last season’s final, scoring nine goals and conceding just two in the knockout stages.
Chelsea then strengthened their star-studded squad over the summer, signing Romelu Lukaku from Inter Milan in a club-record £97.5million deal.
The Belgian ace has hit the ground running with three goals in the Premier League and he struck the winner in the 1-0 victory over Zenit St Petersburg on Tuesday night.
PSG, meanwhile, also bolstered their world-class squad during the transfer window by signing Lionel Messi, Georginio Wijnaldum, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos and Achraf Hakimi.
Many believe this business makes the French giants favourites to win their maiden Champions League title, but former Tottenham boss Pochettino is not underestimating his old rivals Chelsea.
“It’s possible that Chelsea and ourselves are the two teams to beat on paper, looking at our squads, but Chelsea are the holders so they’re the team to beat especially after strengthening their squad,” said the PSG manager.
“We’re not a team yet. We are a club that has recruited many players this summer. There are some big names but we have to turn into a team.
“We know that we’ll be judged at the end of the season on our results. The pressure is there for all the clubs and we know that for a number of years, the Champions League is PSG’s main objective.”
PSG reached the final of the Champions League in 2020, where they were defeated 1-0 by Bayern Munich, and begin their Group A campaign against Club Brugge on Wednesday night.
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Although Pochettino claims the players at his disposal are yet to form a “team”, he admitted it was “possible” he could finally pick the glittering forward line of Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar which fans have been waiting to see.
PSG captain Marquinhos discussed the fearsome trident and, as a centre-back, his focus was on how the team must defend to allow them to flourish.
“If the three of them are up front, they’re experienced players, they know we have to be compact and defend together,” said the Brazilian.
“We know the defence has to play high to put them in the best conditions. If there’s anything to be said I’ll certainly say it.”
PSG have enjoyed a brilliant start to the season with five wins from five in Ligue 1 giving them a four-point lead at the top of the table.
The Parc des Princes club are desparate to regain their domestic crown after Lille beat them to the title last campaign.