Paris Saint-Germain owners daring to dream big after team's dismantling of Barcelona in Champions League

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Associated Press

Paris Saint-Germain is dreaming big, just like its motto says.

The French club, desperate to join Europe's elite since Qatari owners QSI took over six years ago, made an eye-catching breakthrough in the Champions League yesterday, routing Barcelona 4-0 in the first leg of the last 16.

"This was the best performance I've been part of since coming to PSG," said midfielder Blaise Matuidi, one of QSI's first signings after its takeover in June 2011.

In the years since the new ownership came in, PSG has pumped hundreds of millions of euros (dollars) into acquiring big-name coaches and big-name players, including Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria and Julian Draxler.

QSI also launched an advertising campaign with the motto "Revons Plus Grand," French for "Let's Dream Bigger."

It hasn't always worked out, though.

In the past four seasons, PSG has dominated in France but has failed to reach even the semifinals of the Champions League. Twice the team lost to Barcelona, in 2013 and '15, in the quarterfinals and then again last year to Manchester City.

The result of European frustration has led to swift and ruthless change, with coach Laurent Blanc fired in the offseason despite winning back-to-back domestic trebles.

His successor, Unai Emery, was hand-picked by PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, who liked what he saw in the Sevilla side that Emery guided to three straight Europa League titles.

That team played with passion, total commitment and relentless energy, and the Spanish coach has allied those qualities to a PSG team with considerably more individual talent than Sevilla.

After a difficult start, his methods are working well.

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