Edinson Cavani’s thunderbolt of a header past Donovan Leon last Saturday against Auxerre not only won Paris Saint-Germain the Coupe de France but also crowned off the greatest ever season in French football history. Bold statement? Well a clean sweep of domestic titles is an unprecedented feat which will be near impossible to replicate. The Trophee des Champions, Coupe de la Ligue, Ligue 1 title and now the Coupe de France. It is the most successful season in the club’s history by a country mile and only a Champions League title in the coming years would surely surpass it.
Critics will argue that this has only been achieved due to the mass amounts of money spent by the club. True, it has changed the landscape of French football. Some are in favour with the influx of world class talent. Others believe the capital club have literally moved the goalposts by lavishing millions which other clubs in the domestic game can only dream about. But, come on? To win the domestic treble – technically the quadruple if you count the TDC – is an unbelievable achievement that is rarely seen across Europe’s major leagues. Benfica of Portugal managed to do it last year. Then you would have to go all the way back to the year 2000 when Bayern Munich did their clean sweep in Germany. It is something that is not done all too often!
President Nasser Al-Khelaifi summed it up perfectly post match. As reported by the club’s official site, Nasser said; “It’s the best season in the history of the club, so it’s a marvellous evening! We are very proud to be the first team in France to complete a domestic quadruple and enter our name in the history of French football. We are very proud of our players and our supporters. Now, our main dream, the one we are working for every day, remains to win the Champions League. You can’t win that overnight, We saw that it took Chelsea nearly ten years. We are improving every day, including in the Champions League, because this year we eliminated Chelsea. Now we will sit down with the coach Laurent Blanc, and see what we need to change to improve the team”.
So after domestic dominance, the president was vivid with his intention of becoming the first French club since 1993 to win the European Cup. It is a dream, one that can be achieved – but not immediately. He knows that, as does everyone affiliated with the club. As we saw with the elimination to Barca that sides like that are in a completely different stratosphere to the rest of Europe in terms of quality. As I said last month, our first-XI is not far off being the finished article but we do need to strengthen in numbers. The quality in the squad is not quite on par with the likes of Barca, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Chelsea etc. FFP sanctions mean we will need to be shrewd in the summer window. Our plans last summer were scuppered by this and the club will have learnt from mistakes such as trying to sign Angel di Maria in some sort of loophole loan deal. We put all our eggs in one basket there which turned out to be a massive waste of time.
Speaking of signings, Javier Pastore has FINALLY signed a new contract. Days after the cup win El Flaco penned a new deal till 2019. It had been in the pipeline for weeks but it is nice to get 1970 PSG’s Player of the Season committed to a new long term deal. The poster boy of the initial QSI investment told the club’s official site; “I’m very happy. This has been the best year of my career. I’m very proud of my season, and also of all my teammates because without them, I couldn’t achieve anything so I’d like thank them all and everyone that works for Paris Saint-Germain. Also the coaching staff because success is not just for the players on the pitch but the whole club. The whole Paris Saint-Germain family”.
The season has just been incredible. There were some sticky moments before the winter break. And the whole debacle involving Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani left a bitter taste with their no-show at the winter training camp. But differences were put aside, bridges rebuilt and the form since the start of April – primarily after the win at the Stade Velodrome over Marseille – has been outstanding. The defeat in Europe was a wakeup call. It kind of brought us back down to earth after beating Chelsea but that is not necessarily a bad thing. It highlights the weaknesses and the strength in depth is the main concern. Contingency plans must be in place to eventually replace the ageing stars such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Motta and Maxwell. The club needs to address it this summer to ease the transition for the season after next.
But for now Davd Luiz summed it wonderfully well after the win at the Stade de France. In his inaugural season at the club he has won four trophies. But his comments were heartfelt and true, especially when he talked about ambition. The Brazilian said; “It’s never easy to win a trophy, and we’ve won four of them. It’s really an extraordinary pleasure to play for this familial and humane club. I hope that everyone will still be here next season, because we have a fantastic squad. We need to have even more ambition – the ambition to keep ourselves at the highest level – and now of course we’re dreaming of winning the Champions League. I think we’re on the right track”.