Paris Saint-Germain remain first among equals in France.
Thomas Tuchel’s all-conquering Parisian outfit have now finally secured their eighth league title, and sixth following their acquisition by Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) in 2011, with games to spare.
Lille’s 0-0 draw away to Toulouse saw PSG crowned champions once again without kicking a ball but they were able to put the cherry on top of the Ligue 1 cake, with a Kylian Mbappe hattrick helping them defeat AS Monaco 3-1 to sweeten the deal.
It’s been another season in which they’ve answered the call, having amassed well over 90 goals, but despite what the numbers say it hasn’t all been plain sailing.
Although they could have wrapped up the league in record-equalling time, Les Rouge et Bleu have at times been prone to vulnerability, evident in the last couple of weeks.
Here are just a few examples of why this championship will not be gleaming.
Shell-shocked in Lille
After some difficult years, Lille should finish as best of the rest. Christophe Galtier’s side are six points clear of third place Olympique Lyonnais, whom they meet in early May, and have a favourable remaining fixture list. A return to Champions League football is reward for their hard work which included humbling PSG on matchday 32.
Having gone in front, courtesy of a Thomas Meunier own goal, they were pegged back by Juan Bernat before he was given an early bath. It was from this moment the floodgates opened.
🔴⚪ M A I S Q U E L L E V I C T O I R E ! 🔴⚪
Les Dogues ne comptent pas 5, ni 6, ni même 7 mais 8⃣ points d'avance sur le 3ème au classement pic.twitter.com/OU3y7bd236
— LOSC (@losclive) April 14, 2019
PSG, who can often be in a giving mood, saw no fewer than four goals go past them. Nicolas Pépé, among Europe’s most wanted this summer, was involved in three. The 5-1 scoreline was their heaviest league defeat since going down 4-0 at Bordeaux in 2009. Also, it was the first time since December 2000 that PSG had conceded five in a Ligue 1 match, when they lost 5-1 at Sedan.
It goes without saying PSG are by far and away the strongest team in France. Their financial strength, which enabled them to make Neymar the most expensive footballer in history, is living proof. So, they should be sweeping all before them, but no one told Strasbourg that.
Strasbourg 1-1 PSG
PSG 2-2 Strasbourg
The only team in Ligue 1 this season that will not have lost a game against PSG. ✊ pic.twitter.com/5GmQD5BmRG
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 7, 2019
The mid-table side is one of just four Ligue 1 clubs to take points off PSG this season. However, unlike the rest (Bordeaux, Lille and Lyon), their unbeaten against the league’s powerhouse. First, in December, they held PSG to a 1-1 draw at home before leaving the French capital earlier this month with a respectable 2-2 draw.
There’s something about Kehrer
Thilo Kehrer has a bright future. It goes without saying. He’s a talented young multifunctional footballer who is nominally at home in central defence. Having signed from Schalke 04 last summer the native of Tübingen has found his way into PSG’s first-team, but it’s fair to say there’s a long way to go, this can be illustrated by looking at the numbers with and without him.
88 – Paris encaisse en moyenne 1 but toutes les 88 minutes avec Thilo Kehrer sur le terrain en Ligue 1 cette saison, contre seulement 1 but toutes les 180 minutes quand il est absent. Apprentissage. pic.twitter.com/zeiB7WJyDO
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) April 17, 2019
It’s like night and day. When he’s on the field PSG conceded a goal every 88 minutes, not terrible, but without him, they’re conceding one every 180 minutes. Of course, all of this isn’t down to him, there are other circumstances involved. But what it does highlight is the price Tuchel often paid for in games featuring Kehrer
Shipping them in
Defence wins championships, PSG must be glad they are just short of the finishing line. The last couple of matches has been a nightmare. Yes, a number of key players are missing, but it shouldn’t be like this. A 2-2 draw with Strasbourg, in which they were close to losing, was followed by that humping 5-1 defeat at Lille.
2009 – Paris have conceded at least 3 goals in 2 consecutive Ligue 1 games for the first time since March 2009 (v Marseille & Toulouse). Shipwreck. pic.twitter.com/9tARSMfmIg
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) April 17, 2019
A win at lowly Nantes would have been enough for PSG to secure back-to-back championships, but a makeshift team were blown away 3-2 by a more hungry side. It means they’ve conceded at least two goals in consecutive Ligue 1 games for the first time since March 2009.
As much as domestic success means so much to all those involved at PSG it’s undeniable that Champions League success has become an obsession. The owners yearn European football’s top prize but for all their lavish spending they’ve fallen (embarrassingly) short these last few years.
What has come before isn’t Tuchel’s fault, if anything he’s largely been a positive in his first season at the helm, but there’s a sense a mental block exists. Even looking back now it’s a head scratcher how they managed to snatch elimination from the jaws of progression against Manchester United.
PSG are the first side in Champions League history to fail to progress after a 3+ goal first-leg lead in a knockout match *AND* a 2+ goal lead after playing the first leg at home.
On the wrong side of the record books… again. pic.twitter.com/1k9QyzUJKp
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 6, 2019
United were on the ropes following a 0-2 loss to PSG at Old Trafford and with Paul Pogba, their most influential player suspended for the return leg, everyone rightfully assumed they had one foot in the quarter-finals. But as we’ve seen all too often in recent seasons leave it to PSG to prove us wrong.
A capitulating 1-3 defeat, laced with individual mistakes, handed the Red Devils their most improbable Champions League comeback win. More damning was the fact they became the first side in tournament history to be dumped out having a 2+ goal lead after playing the first knockout game away from home.
Champions of Ligue 1 but not Coupe de la Ligue champions. A run of four consecutive triumphs – and 21 wins – came to an end at the hands of Guingamp in January.
Jocelyn Gourvennec’s side went a goal behind, after Neymar put the hosts in front, with 28 minutes remaining on the clock. What should have ended in a routine victory was anything but. Yeni Ngbakoto equalised from the spot in the 81st minute before Marcus Thuram, the son of Lilian, did the same from 12 yards in stoppage.