Sunday 15th April:
Paris Saint-Germain 7-1 Monaco
It has effectively been confirmed for many weeks, but Paris Saint-Germain have now officially been crowned champions of Ligue 1 this weekend, following a 7-1 destruction of last season’s victors, Monaco. Amid a carnival-like atmosphere in the Parc des Princes, PSG went to work diligently as they tore apart their nearest rivals with unrivalled conviction and precision. The millions spent in the summer have perhaps now been partly justified, despite a painful early elimination from the Champions League, and Unai Emery can depart Paris with a domestic title firmly fastened to his managerial record.
From the get go this season, it appeared there would be no stopping France’s richest club. The arrivals of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe added an extra, much needed dimension to the Parisian’s offence, and with Edinson Cavani in ruthless form PSG surged to the summit of France’s top flight and never appeared as though they would relinquish their position. Judging by the contrasting showings from the two clubs at the Parc des Princes on Sunday, it would be difficult to truly understand that, according to the league standings, the top two sides in France were doing battle.
In truth, aside from an early flurry of chances, Monaco never appeared as though they were capable of delaying PSG’s ascension for another week. The Parisians displayed all the true hallmarks of worthy champions in a 90 minute spell, and demonstrated just why they are certain to rule as kings of France for the foreseeable future. For the likes of Monaco, Lyon and Marseille, this will come as a frightening realisation, with no obvious path to the title in the future and the simple inability to compete with PSG financially.
The home side rallied after Almamay Toure’s early miscued volley, and were soon celebrating the opener after 14 minutes. Dani Alves’ cutback found youngster Giovani Le Celso, and the Argentine swept home past Danjiel Subasic to help spark title celebrations. Cavani added a second soon after, the in-form hitman nodding home Yuri Berniche’s delivery. And, sure enough, soon after the floodgates well and truly opened.
Angel di Maria chipped home on 20 minutes after Cavani’s selfless assist, and Le Celso grabbed his brace soon after with a well-directed near post header. Rony Lopes added a consolation to the scoreline just before the interval, but the muted celebrations from the visitors understandably summed up the limp nature in which Monaco were gifting PSG the league title.
Soon after the half time break, the home side picked up where they left off and looked to further humiliate their opponents. Di Maria joined Le Celso with a brace on the hour mark, after being teed up by fellow Argentine Javier Pastore, before Radamel Falcao’s own goal and Julian Draxler added further gloss to proceedings.
The party in Paris is certain to live long into the night, but as the dust settles there will be an overriding feeling, and perhaps fear, that the sheer ease PSG had demonstrated in tearing apart Leonardo Jardim’s side doesn’t bode well for the competitiveness usually on show in Ligue 1. With more investment a certainty in the summer, and a new manager soon to lead the club into the future, Paris Saint-Germain show no signs of weakness domestically and threaten to rule over France’s top flight with an iron fist for many years to come.
Elsewhere in Ligue 1:
Angers 1-1 Nice: Nice dropped two invaluable points in their race for Europe, after being held to a disappointing stalemate at Angers. Alassane Plea had missed several chances to open the scoring, but finally made amends after 68 minutes when the striker was slotted through by the impressive Jean Seri and blasted past Ludovic Butelle. However, Angers earned a share of the spoils five minutes from time when Angelo Fulgini blasted home off the underside of the crossbar.
Strasbourg 0-1 St Etienne: Mathieu Debuchy prolonged his recent rich vein of form with a late winner for St Etienne, who continued their unlikely charge towards European football. In a game decided by a single, last-gasp chance, St Etienne stole all three points with their only effort on target. Kevin Monnet-Pacquet’s low delivery into the penalty area evaded Romain Hamouma, but Debuchy was on hand to sweep home at the far post.
Rennes 1-2 Metz: Basement side Metz stunned Rennes this weekend, as the relegation strugglers ran out unlikely winners. The home side, unbeaten in their last eight games and harbouring European ambitions, led at half-time through Benjamin Bourigeaud’s 27th minute header. However, Metz struck back in the second half through Nolan Roux’s brace – two close range predatory finishes from the forward moving Metz within four points of the relegation play-off place with five games remaining.
Nantes 1-1 Dijon: Nantes’ ambitions of a European qualifying spot took another blow after a home stalemate with Dijon. The home side started superbly and deservedly edged into the lead on 33 minutes – Prejuce Nakoulma converting from close range after Emiliano Sala’s header had struck the woodwork. But Dijon found the leveller on the hour mark, when Naim Sliti shrugged off his markers and touched on to Kwon Chang-hoon who blasted home past Ciprian Tatarusanu.
Lille 2-2 Guingamp: Lille were forced to settle for a draw after two stoppage time goals from Guingamp broke the hearts of the relegation strugglers. The home side raced into a two goal lead after the interval, when Yassine Benzia teed up Nicolas Pepe to convert from close range, and the second arriving when Pepe turned provider for Luiz Araujo, who steered home on 57 minutes. But Guingamp fought back for a point right at the death – Junior Alonso’s own goal after 91 minutes hauling the visitors back into the game, before Jimmy Briand fired home with the last kick of the game.
Lyon 3-0 Amiens: Lyon’s winning streak extended with a comfortable home triumph over Amiens, after Memphis Depay appeared on the score sheet once again. The Dutchman set up Mariano after 18 minutes, who opened the scoring, before Depay tucked home late on after newly fit substitute Nabil Fekir released released Bertrand Traore down the flank. Fekir looked set to add a third on 85 minutes but was dispossessed by Stiven Mendoza, but Traore was perfectly placed to slot home from the interception and seal the points for Bruno Genesio’s side.
Montpellier 1-3 Bordeaux: Bordeaux’s recent poor run of form came to an end, after a clinical performance in front of goal saw Gus Poyet’s side run out victors at Montpellier. The visitors struck first after nine minutes, when Martin Braithwaite was on hand to tuck home Pablo’s flick-on. Francois Kamano added a second after latching onto Lukas Lerager’s diagonal cross and burying past Benjamin Lecomte. Bordeaux wrapped up the points deep into the second half, loanee Soualiho Meite side-footing home. There was still time for Montpellier resurgence though, as Elysse Skhiri curled home on 88 minutes before Souleymane Camara was denied by Benoit Costil from the penalty spot.
Troyes 2-3 Marseille: Marseille battled back against Troyes twice to seal another victory in the race for Champions League football next season. Surprisingly, the home side took the lead in the first minute of the game – Stephane Darbion’s delivery converted by Samuel Grandsir. Ten minutes later, Marseille were level. Following captain Dmitri Payet’s clever set-piece, Clinton N’Jie fired home off the woodwork. But after the interval, Troyes retook their lead in their first attack once again. Grandsir’s effort was parried by Yohann Pele, and Benjamin Nivet stroked home the rebound from close range. But back came Marseille, who sealed the points after Kostas Mitroglou’s equaliser and Florian Thauvin’s controlled volley following Jordan Amavi’s cross.
Fixtures to look out for next week:
Nantes vs Rennes – both sides are harbouring ambitions of qualifying for Europe this season, and with only a couple of points separating the two, this clash could be crucial in the race for Europa League football.
Marseille vs Lille – these two teams hold very differing ambitions: Marseille will be looking to reclaim the final Champions League qualifying spot, whilst Lille are in dire need of victories to push them out of the relegation zone. A crucial match-up for contrasting reasons.
Nice vs Montpellier – similar to the Nantes vs Rennes clash, these two sides are also aiming to finish the season strongly and potentially earn European football next campaign.