Paris Saint-Germain are the champions once again! At long last after weeks of the inevitable the title was sewn up thanks to Guingamp who earned a 1-1 draw in Monte Carlo, minutes prior to our game with Rennes. The newly crowned Coupe de France winners did us a favour but it also took the gloss off the importance of the game with SRFC. In what transpired to be a strange old game, the Ligue 1 strugglers inflicted our first home league defeat of the season and the first since November 2012 (who ironically were Rennes as well).
The performance was flat but the mentality had clearly been affected. The build-up up to the game would have been to ensure that three points are obtained. But, the pressure was lifted thanks to Fatih Atik’s late equaliser at the Stade Louis II.
The Parc des Princes painted a pretty picture as the players came out with a blue, red and white mosaic spelling out ‘PARIS’. The ever infectious Ezequiel Lavezzi could not hide his delight upon hearing the news that title was sewn up with an embrace with Blaise Matuidi. It was in fact the little Argentine who opened the scoring within the first few minutes. Former Parisian – and fan favourite– Sylvain Armand was dispossessed by Edinson Cavani who set up ‘El Pocho’ to tuck home for his eighth league goal of the campaign.
Unfortunately, that was as good as it got. Two quick fire goals from on-loan Foued Kadir (from Marseille ironically) and Paul Ntep silenced the crowd. Les Parisiens showed glimpses before the end of the half but nothing substantial.
It was more of the same after the interval. Even the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic – who got the biggest cheer of the night – was unable to inspire any sort of comeback. Alex rattled the bar late on with a thumping header but that was as close PSG came to salvaging a point. It really was a poor performance and you try to make exception for it as the title had been won already. Nevertheless, with the array of talent on the pitch you have to expect more. It was a game to forget but full credit to the visitors who were tactically superb.
The whole build-up to the game was of course dominated by the expected repercussions for the club as a result of breaching Financial Fair Play regulations. We are still awaiting official confirmation from UEFA on this but it is going to culminate in the club changing its plans this summer. Players will have to depart in order to come in. The wage bill cannot be exceeded. There will be a transfer limit as well as a reduced squad in the UEFA Champions League. If reports are to be believed that is.
Understandably, this has dominated the sports pages in France but for today at least, the achievement of the players and Laurent Blanc at sealing a consecutive league title can be celebrated. I have said many times that the coach has done fantastic for a debut campaign in charge by guiding us to a league and cup double (despite the disappointment in London against Chelsea). And to add another feather to his cap, he has matched his achievements at Bordeaux with the capital club by winning the league, Coupe de la Ligue and the Trophees des Champions. He is becoming a vastly decorated coach in terms of honours.
Blanc has said countlessly that he will sign a new contract extension as soon as the league title was wrapped up. That’s now happened, the skipper Thiago Silva has expressed his desire for him to continue and so has Nasser Al-Khelaifi. At last we can have some stability in the dugout at least as a big summer for the club looms. A new Sporting Director to arrive as well as the repercussions from FFP.
For now though, let’s stand up for the champions….AGAIN!