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Football | Champions League

PSG eager to impress on return to top table

If Paris Saint-Germain really are a major player on the European stage once again, then a first Champions League match in almost a decade, at home to Dynamo Kiev, is the perfect chance to prove it to the rest of the continent.

This is why Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) took over PSG in the first place. Missing out on the Ligue 1 title last season to Montpellier was a blow, but their second-place finish gave them the automatic Champions League berth that was central to their plans for the club.

Owner Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani will have his sights set on winning the trophy in the not too distant future.

For now, Carlo Ancelotti's side are at least expected to make an impression. Their huge summer outlay on players such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva requires them to do that.

And so does a group-stage draw which saw them avoid any of the tournament favourites, for now at least. Instead, PSG will face Portuguese champions FC Porto as well as Croatia's Dinamo Zagreb and their first opponents, Dynamo Kiev.

There will be pressure on the French capital club to get off to a winning start when they welcome the Ukrainians to the Parc des Princes, which will be staging Champions League football for the first time since 2004.

PSG endured a slow start to the Ligue 1 season, but they are beginning to look the part after a 2-0 home win against Toulouse on Friday, achieved thanks to goals from two of the marquee signings of the QSI era - Javier Pastore and Ibrahimovic.

"We're beginning to see the real Paris Saint-Germain," warned captain Christophe Jallet. "We're putting a run of results together, and teams will start to fear us a bit more now.

"It's great for our confidence and I hope we can keep going like this because on Tuesday we'll need to show that we're up to the standard required in Europe."

They could be helped by the likely presence in their line-up for the first time of Thiago Silva, the Brazilian described by PSG as "the best defender in the world" when they signed him from AC Milan in the summer.

These clubs last met as recently as April 2009 in the Uefa Cup quarterfinals, when a goalless first-leg draw helped Dynamo to progress with a 3-0 victory in the return in Ukraine, and they would be delighted for a repeat score this time around.

The might of the present-day PSG means most will see Dynamo as underdogs, but they are giants in their own right, the most successful club of the Soviet era and one of the big two in Ukraine today alongside Shakhtar Donetsk.

And, in Andriy Shevchenko's first spell at the club, they reached the Champions League semifinals in 1999.

Shevchenko retired in the summer, but coach Yuri Semin oversaw the arrivals of Croatia's Niko Kranjcar and Portugal midfielder Miguel Veloso, while Nigerian full-back Taye Taiwo, formerly of PSG's sworn enemies Marseille, was signed on loan.

They head to France in third place in their domestic league, six points adrift of leaders Shakhtar, after beating Karpaty Lviv 3-1 at home on Friday, with Kranjcar netting twice, and Semin's men have already beaten Feyenoord and Borussia Moenchengladbach to make it to the group stage.

Furthermore, Ukraine's 1-1 draw against England at Wembley in a World Cup qualifier last week serves as a reminder that one of the country's leading clubs must not be taken lightly.

Dynamo's international defender Taras Mikhalik told the club's official website: "Ukraine saw lots of the ball at Wembley and controlled the game at times. Similarly, we have no reason to be afraid in Paris, and must go out and play."


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