Four wins in a row now for Paris Saint-Germain. It is a far cry from that embarrassing defeat in Corsica where we squandered a 2-0 lead to then lose 4-2 at the hands of Bastia. The knives were being sharped in the Parisian press minutes after the final whistle and poor Laurent Blanc was left to face the music. Ever since that night though, things have steadied. Two terrific wins in Saint-Etienne have been the standout results which saw us progress into the last-four of the Coupe de la Ligue and go level on points with Marseille in the table. We are still in all four competitions! The Champions League is a completely different entity but Blanc and his men should do all they can to win a domestic treble.
We were one shy last season. The retention of the league title and joyous scenes at the Stade de France when we beat Lyon for the Coupe de la Ligue were the bearing fruits of a terrific campaign. The defeat to Chelsea somewhat tarnished it for Blanc having been leading 3-1 in the first-leg and then falling flat in the return fixture at Stamford Bridge. The press in France have never forgotten it but I reiterated so many times last year that it will be criminal for that to disparage a fantastic season for the football club.
Lo and behold, we are up against Chelsea again in the European Cup – this time in the last-16. This is a massive challenge. One which is even greater than last season as we are now facing a side that has been playing some of the best football in Europe. The first-leg being at the Parc des Princes does not really help either and that is the frustration with finishing second in the group. Again, Blanc was questioned massively after the defeat in Barcelona on the final match-day of the group stage as the Catalans went through as winners at our expense (after we led the group from match-day two).
Blanc’s long-term future hinges on these two games with Chelsea you feel. The club is craving progress in Europe’s premier competition and a third consecutive league retention (if it were to happen) may not be enough to convince the owners that he is the right man to continue the role. It is all hypothetical of course but the coach must have his sights on a domestic treble. Whatever happens in the Champions League will be a bonus. We will give Chelsea a test just as much as they will with us but it really is anyone’s guess as to who will go through over the two legs.
We have a fantastic chance of doing a clean sweep in France. That win in Saint-Etienne on Sunday was big! Not only did it put some leeway between ourselves and Les Verts, it put us level on points with Marseille in second and back to within four of leaders Lyon. The task now is to beat Rennes on Friday and we can then head to the Stade de Gerland a week later with every opportunity of trimming their lead to just a solitary point (assuming they are victorious themselves against Monaco which will be no easy feat by any means; ASM are on fire at the moment!).
We are in the last-four of the Coupe de la Ligue and have an away trip to Lille to look forward to next week. Then a week later, we are at home to Les Canaris in the last-16 of the Coupe de France when FC Nantes make the visit. It is a realistic chance for us to make it into the quarter-final for the first time since 2013 when Evian beat us 4-1 on penalties.
Despite all the silliness at the beginning of the year due to Edinson Cavani & Ezequiel Lavezzi’s no-show on the winter tour, things have seemingly moved on. There is still plenty to improve upon on the pitch of course but we must realise that we are very much capable of making more history. If the club can do a domestic clean sweep, that will be incredible. No club in France has ever won the Ligue 1 title, the CDF and CDL all in the same season. What an achievement that would be!
European progress will be a bonus but domestic domination must be the goal for Les Parisiens.