PSG start life in CL after Messi, Neymar
Paris Saint-Germain's Warren Zaire-Emery (left) jumps for the ball with Nice's Youssouf Ndayishimiye during a French Ligue 1 football match at Parc des Princes in Paris, France on Friday.(Photo: AP)

Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) started their previous UEFA Champions League campaign with a team featuring Lionel Messi and Neymar and a win over Juventus.

The two football greats didn't score that night and PSG was later eliminated from Europe's top competition in the last 16 for the fifth time in seven years. The premature exit, once again, highlighted the blatant failure of PSG's strategy of assembling star-studded teams without a real backbone.

The owners have changed their master plan during the summer, though, and it's a revamped PSG that takes on Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday as the group stage of the elite European tournament kicks off.

As usual, the French champions spent heavily on new recruits, but they no longer seem obsessed with the need for big names.

Taking part in the group stage for the 12th-consecutive time, the PSG squad facing Dortmund on Tuesday is radically different from the one that was knocked out by Bayern Munich last season.

Up front, Marco Asensio joined from Real Madrid, Gonçalo Ramos arrived from Benfica, and Randal Kolo Muani signed to possibly form an all-French attack alongside Kylian Mbappé and Ousmane Dembélé. PSG also transformed their midfield, hiring Kang-in Lee and Manuel Ugarte. At the back, Bayern Munich's Lucas Hernandez was added as well as Milan Skriniar.

In addition to Messi and Neymar's departures, Sergio Ramos and Marco Verratti have also left, while PSG switched to a 4-3-3 formation under new Coach Luis Enrique, who does not have to bother with accommodating Neymar, Messi, and Mbappé together.

The cash-rich Qatari investors, who took over in 2011, hope their new strategy will finally help them replicate the club's domestic dominance on Europe's biggest stage. And they also count on Enrique, who won the Champions League, Spanish league, and Copa del Rey in his first season in charge when he coached Barcelona.

"You need ambition, but when you are obsessed with something it never works out, in any area of life," Enrique said Monday, when asked about PSG's craving for the Champions League, "We are really hopeful, we want to go out and play, we want to please our fans, we want the tournament to kick off, but we are not obsessed."

But the new players have not gelled into a solid unit yet and Enrique's possession-based system has not yielded immediate results.

In the French league, PSG has managed only eight points from five matches, their worst total since the 2010-11 season and lost at home to Nice 3-2 at the weekend. PSG looked shaky and lacked attacking creativity as Skriniar and Dembélé delivered below-par displays.

Enrique, however, said he was not troubled by the result.

"If we're talking about the three goals, two of them were deflected by our defenders," the coach said. "I'm not worried at all. I think that on Tuesday we'll play better, I'm sure we'll be better. I'm optimistic, even if it's a match against a difficult opponent."

After the feud between Mbappé and club officials over a contract dispute, the France striker has been a source of confidence for Enrique. After overcoming a small knee injury, Mbappé returned with two goals against Nice and should lead the attack against Dortmund.

— AP

Tuesday's Champions League fixtures:

Group E:

Feyenoord v Celtic @ 2:00 pm

Lazio v Atletico Madrid @ 2:00 pm

Group F

Milan v Newcastle @ 11:45 am

PSG v Dortmund @ 2:00 pm

Group G

Young Boys v RB Leipzig @ 11:45 am

Man City v Red Star Belgrade @ 2:00 pm

Group H

Barcelona v Royal Antwerp @ 2:00 pm

Shakhtar Donetsk v Porto @ 2:00 pm

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