Laurent Blanc’s team on verge of domestic quadruple this season
21 May ~ The celebrations on the pitch were fairly muted after Paris Saint-Germain’s 2-1 win at Montpellier on Saturday evening. Rather than letting loose, players seemed to look to one another to lead the jigs of joy. There was some stiff jumping in the air and a few bow-down-and-worship salutes to PSG’s sizeable travelling contingent of fans, but that was about it.
Perhaps it’s because everyone – including the players themselves – knew PSG would eventually win the title. Marseille headed the table from September to December and Lyon’s challenge lasted longer than many people expected, but Laurent Blanc’s side were always going to be too strong in the end.
Some of their players – notably Brazilian centre-half duo Thiago Silva and David Luiz – needed time to recover from last summer’s World Cup, but once the team hit their stride there was no stopping them. Beating Montpellier means PSG clinched the title with a run of eight straight victories.
Having to wait until the penultimate matchday to secure the Ligue 1 title may suggest PSG have underachieved. The fact they will complete a domestic quadruple of Ligue 1, Coupe de France, Coupe de la Ligue and pre-season Champions Trophy (played in Beijing last August) if they beat Ligue 2 side Auxerre in the Coupe de France final on May 30 tells a different story.
Winning the league might be even easier next season. The main reason Marseille and Lyon were able to challenge for so long is that neither club had European commitments. That is unlikely to be the case next season for those two clubs or Monaco. If all four teams are competing on domestic and European fronts, PSG will almost certainly come out on top.
Of course, Ligue 1 is no longer PSG’s main concern. Qatar Sports Investment (QSI) became owners in 2011 to turn PSG into one of Europe’s major forces, ultimately to win the Champions League. PSG’s 5-1 quarter-final aggregate defeat to Barcelona showed that the gap that separates Paris from the cream of the continent remains considerable. What QSI have learned so far is that you can buy your way into the top eight of European football, but going two or three stages further than that is extremely difficult.
The futures of several important players are up in the air. Unhappy at being used mainly on the wing, Edinson Cavani may leave. Thiago Motta has been less influential in front of the defence than he was last season. Most troublingly, Zlatan Ibrahimovic remains as dominant a figure as ever despite the obvious waning of his powers on the field.
PSG do not look established enough to attract the players that can win the Champions League, even though Borussia Dortmund, Atlético Madrid and Juventus reaching the final of the competition against the odds in recent seasons gives them hope. If they do win the French Cup, this could be as good as it ever gets. James Eastham