Paris Saint Germain’s canter to their third successive title last season appeared to be tougher than first anticipated with Lyon, Monaco and Marseille all pushing to the very end. But in truth, PSG were far too strong for them all. Flush with riches beyond most teams wildest dreams and a squad of superstar players at their disposal, PSG should be ruling French football and they are. This past weekend they added another trophy to their cabinet, the French Cup making it their third domestic trophy this season and earning them a place in French folklore as the first team to win a domestic treble. Despite the narrow 1-0 scoreline, they dominated that match much like they had dominated most matches this season in France.
Their record in Ligue 1 over the last three years demonstrates their dominance. Over three seasons and 114 games, PSG have won 76 times (66%) and have lost on only 11 occasions (9.6%). They have scored 236 goals, average just over two goals a game. Better still they have only conceded only 82 times in three seasons, or a goal every game and a half. But there are early signs, albeit manageable ones of problems arising at the club. This season saw PSG draw 11 times and more worryingly concede more goals (36) than either of the first two seasons (both 23). Added into this, Ligue 1 is finally becoming competitive again after several baron years with few teams able to mount a serious challenge. Whilst Monaco has bought its recent success with a series of high profile captures over the years including Rademel Falcao, Joao Moutinho and Lucas Ocampos, Marsielle’s renaciance can be credited to the appointment of Marcelo Bielsa and the strong team work ethic he brought to the club. A strong start to the season raised hopes that this was the year for Marseille but their hard work was ultimately undone by two poor months in February and April where they only managed to pick up three points in eight vital games. Lyon however did push PSG to the very end but shock defeats to Caen and Nice would derail their chances as the season drew to a close.
PSG know that they will need to improve, despite winning this years title in the end by a comfortable eight points. Their overdependent on stirkers Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edison Cavani who between them scored 44% of PSG’s league goals this season. With speculation mounting that the pair could depart the club for new challenges, Blanc will need to address the situation sooner rather than later. As always, PSG’s owners are not afraid to flex their financial muscle to obtain their required targets but after being stung once before by UEFA’s financial fair play rules, they will be slightly more cautious this time. They will invest their money more wisely with a focus on younger players who will provide longevity to what is an aging squad. Decisions will need to be made over the growing volume of stars now over 30 like Ibrahimovic, Zoumana Camara, Thiago Motta and Maxwell. The futures of Yohan Cabaye and Ezequiel Lavezzi will also be considered over the summer after the pair have failed to live up to the high standard they produced at their previous clubs that first brought the attention of PSG’s scouts to them.
New faces will arrive to bolster PSG roster of stars, all under the watchful eye of Blanc who is likely to remain in charge after securing the domestic treble. Blanc however will not be allowed to rest on his laurels with the board making it clear that success for them means only one thing – Champions League. PSG have certainly become more competitive in recent years in the competition but are still quite far away from winning it. They lack the hunger of Barcelona, the organization of Juventus and most importantly the flexibility of Bayern. Blanc’s over reliance in the same tired formation, the one that has worked so well in the league has been his downfall. He may have matched Chelsea ball for ball in the round of 16 but their luck ran out when facing a more dynamic Barcelona side in the quarters. Messi and co simply ran rings round their firm structure and highlighted Blanc’s key weakness – his lack of tactical surprise. This unfortunately is not something you can buy but instead must be learned. Blanc has the summer to address this or he will face the axe.