You could hear the cry of anguish in Paris as the Stade de le Mosson erupted into a sea of pure jubilation with Montpellier putting one hand firmly on the Ligue 1 title last weekend. Following Les Parisiens’ excellent 3-0 victory over Rennes, Karim Ait-Fana’s 93rd minute winner over Lille not only stripped LOSC of their title but also all but ended our own title aspirations.
All Rene Girard’s side need is a point away to relegated Auxerre this Sunday to capture their first top-flight championship. In order for PSG to win it will require a monumental hiccup by MHSC with a defeat, as well as a victory over Lorient who incidentally won at the Parc des Prince at the beginning of the campaign on a rain sodden night in which Javier Pastore was presented to the crowd following his move from Palermo.
There is no way Coach Carlo Ancelotti will have given up hope, all he can do is tell his players to their business and what will be will be in Auxerre. However, the Italian will know deep down that it will require nothing short of a miracle for his team to end up as champions. Nevertheless, this has been a fantastic season for the football club. The remit at the beginning was to qualify for the UEFA Champions League and that has been accomplished. A second-placed finish guarantees us a spot in the group-stages where our modest seeding will see at least one elite entity – perhaps a Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United – partaking in two mouth watering clashes with the capital club. Not to mention the aura of what the competition brings. It has been eight long years since the club kicked a ball in the tournament and it is certainly more than welcomed to be in it once again. Qualifying is huge in the progress of the club and QSI can now really scour the world for the game’s top talent who will be enticed to play in the envy of European football. Drawing in a wider global audience will also be obtainable due to the worldwide appeal. If PSG are to be considered one of the continent’s major forces, they need to be in this competition regularly. It is apparent that will happen and the club will reap the rewards for it.
This week there has been talk of possible new signings such a Ezequiel Lavezzi of Napoli –although director of football Leonardo tried to quash those rumours – Lucio of Internazionale – who has incidentally stated his intention to leave Italy – and once again Gonzalo Higuian of Real Madrid. It Is clear that there are plans already afoot to build for next season but the immediate concern is this weekend.
Striker Kevin Gameiro goes back to the club where it all started for him. Whether or not he starts remains to be seen having been in and out of the team all season. He will be itching to participate but Ancelotti will more than likely stick to the same system with Pastore, Jeremy Menez and Nene leading the attack.
Last week’s win over Rennes was surprisingly comfortable, by never really getting into top gear. Lorient on the other hand are fighting for their survival as incredibly two out of eight teams will go down in a dramatic final day relegation dogfight. They can lose and still survive – sitting a point above the drop zone – but they will be anchoring for a win to ease their fears.
Ultimately, it is a must win for both teams. PSG do not want to go out of this title race on a whimper so victory is fundamental. Yes, it is difficult to envisage Montpellier slipping up but in football you just never know. The players will be kicking themselves to death if Auxerre pull a rabbit out the hat and they could not do their job in Lorient. If there is a chance then there is hope!
Regardless, a championship or not, it should not deter the fact that this has been an incredible campaign. Yes, money has been poured into the club but look where it has got us, back with Europe’s elite! Qualifying for the Champions League is only the beginning and the club can now propel to new heights. This is just the start!
Note: Blaise Matuidi and Jeremy Menez were called up to Les Bleus’ Euro 2012 squad earlier this week by Laurent Blanc. Club captain Mamadou Skaho missed out.