Perhaps the most surprising element of Paris Saint-Germain’s Ligue 1 title winning season is that it will come without them remaining unbeaten. It speaks volumes that the team likely to finish second, AS Monaco, have faced PSG four times in all competitions this year and have lost by an aggregate score of 14-3, losing every match.
Back to reality
It was against their closest contenders that they sealed the league title, running out 7-1 winners over the principality side at the Parc des Princes. But there were no hordes of fans awaiting the players, no over the top celebrations in the streets of Paris’s 16th district. This was a return to normality for the club in Ligue 1 after Monaco’s surprise triumph last campaign.
A Giovani Lo Celso double either side of an Edinson Cavani header and an Angel Di Maria lob put the hosts 4-0 up within half an hour. Supporters in the stadium barely made a noise from that point on. Victory was assured, and all that remained was the formality of the next hour before the whistle was blown to confirm PSG’s fifth league title in six years.
Throughout the season, PSG have blown away their opposition. 8-0 at home to Dijon, 6-1 away to Rennes and a simple 3-0 victory at the Parc des Princes against bitter rivals Olympique de Marseille have been just some of their biggest results.
They eased past Monaco 3-0 in the Coupe de la Ligue final last month, and should make light work of the remaining competition in the Coupe de France, as they face Ligue 1 strugglers SM Caen in the semifinal.
Only Strasbourg and Lyon have taken three points from PSG domestically this season, and both defeats were by a solitary goal away from home.
The end is Unai
Unai Emery will, barring a major upset, secure the domestic treble this season. It will not keep him his job. Laurent Blanc faced the same fate in 2015/16 when he made light work of Ligue 1, but fell short in the Champions League. Emery took the Parisians to the round of 16 two years in a row, but Nasser Al Khelaifi, the chairman of the club, has higher expectations.
Thomas Tuchel is expected to be sat in the dugout next season. He cannot improve on PSG’s form in France, unless he can go a whole season unbeaten, but the only measure by which he will be judged is Champions League performance.
If he somehow were to fail to win Ligue 1 next year, it would not matter so long as PSG’s stock in Europe were increased. Looking at Emery’s reign, Tuchel will have two years to prove himself.
Thomas Tuchel is known for his stubbornness and strict training regime. Those who do not play by his rules will suffer the consequences. Contrast that with Neymar’s laissez-faire attitude to life in Paris.
On the pitch, it looks like he could take on entire teams by himself, skipping past several defenders before providing a moment of magic to provide for one of his teammates or score himself. Even after scoring brilliantly, Neymar does not look too bothered about celebrating exuberantly, as Cavani often does even after even the simplest of tap ins.
Off the pitch, Neymar seems uninterested, too. Whilst his team were securing the league title against Monaco, he was reportedly busy playing poker. Whether the story is true or not, Neymar was not at the Parc des Princes. He sees himself as above the law in the club.
Neymar also allegedly had private meetings with Al Khelaifi, to weigh in on who he wanted the next manager to be. So long as the Brazilian is at the club it is his to run, and that may not sit well with the incoming Tuchel.
Trouble in paradise?
News broke last week that PSG were being looked into once again regarding their compliance with Financial Fair Play. After their purchase of Neymar and their soon to be completed acquisition of loanee Kylian Mbappe, the club will have spent over £300m on two transfers alone.
Their wage bill is treble that of Monaco, the second highest in Ligue 1, totalling over £6 million per week. FFP has so far been to many fans all talk and no action as no team seems to have changed their spending habits in recent years.
Realistically, FFP sanctions which would force PSG to sell their best players to balance the books are the only way in which Ligue 1 could become competitive in the short term. Monaco are forced to sell their best players year after year while Lyon and Marseille don’t have the money to keep up with the Qatari owned club.
PSG shocked no one in winning Ligue 1 this year. They will take home the domestic treble for the third time in four years once they inevitably claim the Coupe de France on the May, 8 at the Stade de France.
Barring an intervention from powers above owing to the breaching of financial rules, their domination of the country will continue for years to come. Thomas Tuchel will hope to extend that domination to Europe and the Champions League.
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