After a 20-year wait, Newcastle United delivered a memorable night for their 50,000 fans as they convincingly defeated Paris Saint-Germain 4-1, making a bold statement in their return to the Champions League stage. This historic first-ever meeting between the two clubs not only showcased a football spectacle but also symbolized the sporting rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the respective backers of Newcastle and PSG. In this battle of state-backed clubs, it was Saudi Arabia that emerged victorious, firmly establishing Newcastle as a credible threat in the Champions League.
PSG’s humiliation on the Champions League stage had not been seen since their infamous collapse in a 6-1 defeat to Barcelona in 2017, erasing a 4-0 first-leg lead. This defeat prompted PSG’s Qatari owners to break transfer records with the signings of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. However, despite their star-studded squad, PSG has yet to conquer Europe, and the match at St. James’ Park exposed the lessons they still need to learn on and off the field.
Despite the Saudi-backed takeover, Newcastle’s spending on new players, nearly £400 million ($483 million), does not place them among the top spenders in the Premier League. Three of Newcastle’s goal-scorers in the match, Miguel Almiron, Sean Longstaff, and Fabian Schar, had been with the club during its battle against relegation just two years ago. The fourth goal-scorer, Dan Burn, worked his way up from the sixth tier of English football and was a lifelong fan of the club.
PSG, on the other hand, has often been criticized for not making the most of the talent pool in their hometown of Paris. Their inability to nurture local talent has been evident in their past failures in the Champions League. Despite being warned about Newcastle’s threat, PSG fielded a star-studded lineup, including summer signings Ousmane Dembele, Goncalo Ramos, and Randal Kolo Muani alongside Mbappe. However, the collective unity and determination of Newcastle outshone the individual brilliance of PSG.
Newcastle’s unforgettable night was made even more special by an electric atmosphere at St. James’ Park. The club’s fans, who celebrated late into the night, watched their team make a triumphant return to the Champions League.
Newcastle’s new era, led by manager Eddie Howe, has begun impressively in the Champions League. Despite being placed in a tough group with last season’s semi-finalists AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund, Newcastle currently leads the group after two games. The hope in Newcastle is that this victory is just the beginning of a journey that may one day lead to Champions League glory.
In contrast, PSG, despite their financial backing, demonstrated how not to achieve their goal of winning the Champions League on this night.