As PSG’s players and staff digested their festive turkey and wine over the holidays, they knew full well that within a matter of days that attention would turn to the latter part of the 2015/16 season. They have been on their standard winter break of Qatar to recharge the batteries ahead of the resumption of the domestic French season which culminated in a 1-0 friendly win over Internazionale last night thanks to Jean-Kevin Augustin’s goal on the stroke of half-time.
Coach Laurent Blanc has always said that last season’s winter camp was pivotal in the club’s eventual success. This year has been the most significant in the its 45 year history. This is a club which is still in its infancy but has gone into a completely new stratosphere since the QSI takeover in 2011. Four years later, it has resulted in domestic dominance. The quadruple! Quite simply, 2015 was the year of Paris Saint-Germain.
This time last year, who could have envisaged the success that was to transpire? Yes, for all the millions that were spent and another league title under our belts, our start to 2014/15 was a slow burner. Performances were largely lethargic. We were slipping up in games that we shouldn’t have. Points were being dropped by a lack of ruthlessness. And Coach Laurent Blanc was getting the flack! To top it all off he had a public spat with Edinson Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi who undermined him by not turning up for winter training. There was distinct tension between the coach and the players. It was even brought up in a meeting between LB, sporting director Olivier Letang and Nasser Al-Khelaifi to perhaps move the two players on during January. In the end, differences were put aside, reconciliations were made and PSG would go on to have a spring to remember.
I will always point to that David Luiz equaliser at Stamford Bridge in the last-16 of the Champions League. That moment was critical! The performance on the night with 10-men against a Jose Mourinho team was nothing short of startling. We were the superior side on the night; it was as if we had the man advantage. So to go behind late on when Gary Cahill netted for the Blues was a real kick in the teeth but the men in red never let their heads drop. They got back into it not once, but twice! Thiago Silva netted an extra-time equaliser – after we fell behind again when Eden Hazard scored from the spot – but it was the skipper’s header that sent us into the last-eight on away goals. So much was on the line that night, no more so than Laurent Blanc’s job. Had we not gone through, would he have remained beyond the summer? Even despite us making a clean domestic sweep? Who is to say that would have even happened had we bowed out to the eventual English champions? This is when hindsight is such a wonderful thing but that Luiz goal was imperative for the success we obtained.
Then there was the 3-2 win away to Marseille at the beginning of April. That was the moment when went up a gear in the final sprint by not only registering victories, but played some of the most beautiful football from a PSG team. The lads would end up netting 25 goals in the last seven league clashes including a 6-0 thumping of Lille and a 6-1 thrashing of Guingamp.
The Trophee des Champions was already in the bag. The Coupe de la Ligue followed in April and then of course the league title. Victory over Auxerre to capture the Coupe de France in the final game capped off an historic season. Something no French club has even done before. Critics will argue that this has only been achieved due to the mass amounts of money spent on players. True, it has changed the landscape of the domestic game. Some are in favour with the influx of world class talent. Others believe Paris have literally moved the goalposts by lavishing millions which is of a severe disadvantage to the rest of the clubs in France. But, to win the domestic quadruple is an unbelievable achievement that is rarely seen across Europe’s major leagues.
With the way things are going already this season, you would not put it past us doing it again. What will be, will be, But, for now the club can bask in what has been a landmark year for all affiliated with Les Parisiens.
2015; the year of Paris Saint-Germain.