Will lack of domestic competition help or hinder PSG’s Champions Leagues prospects?
Posted on 14th September 2015
Dropping two points at home to a side in 10th position is usually a bad result for a title contender. However, while Paris Saint-Germain fans will certainly not have been too enamoured by their side’s 2-2 draw with Bordeaux at the Parc des Princes on Friday night, the scoreline will almost certainly make no difference to their domestic aspirations this term.
Bordeaux, a side who won the league in 2009 and finished sixth last year, are certainly no pushovers, yet PSG were widely expected to secure their fifth victory in five games so far this season. Had they done so, they would have equalled the Ligue 1 record of 14 consecutive wins that Bordeaux themselves set in the 2008-09 campaign, when they were managed by current PSG boss Laurent Blanc.
Despite Friday’s setback, the situation in France’s top flight means that PSG need not be unduly worried. Marcelo Bielsa’s Marseille came flying out of the traps this time 12 months ago, establishing a seven-point lead over the capital club by mid-October. Hubert Fournier’s Lyon, too, punched above their weight, Les Gones going into the final few weeks of the season still with a chance of being crowned champions.
The early signs this time around, however, suggest that a three-way battle lasting for much of the campaign was an aberration that is unlikely to be repeated. PSG spent £77 million on four new additions in the summer, Angel di Maria, Kevin Trapp, Benjamin Stambouli and Layvin Kurzawa joining a team that has won the last three league championships. Since Qatar Sports Investments took over the club in 2011, PSG have spent a total of almost £400 million on new players.
Blanc’s side started the game brightly on Friday evening under the floodlights, moving the ball quickly and penning Bordeaux back inside their own half. They were good value for the lead that was given to them through Edinson Cavani after an error from Cedric Carrasso, although the visitors rallied well and equalised almost immediately when PSG keeper Kevin Trapp inadvertently palmed Henri Saivet’s flicked header into the net.
It did not take long for Cavani to fire his side 2-1 in front, however, the Uruguayan expertly dispatching a free-kick to restore PSG’s lead. Di Maria should have given the hosts a two-goal cushion just before the interval, but he shot straight at Carrasso when put through one-on-one.
PSG continued to dominate at the start of the second half, but Bordeaux rallied and enjoyed a good spell where they could easily have grabbed an equaliser. The chance to level the scores seemed to have been denied to them when Saivet was sent off, but another dreadful mistake from Trapp late on allowed Wahbi Khazri to steal in and ensure Bordeaux left the Parc des Princes with a point.
While Blanc and the club’s fans would evidently have been disappointed with the outcome, everyone associated with PSG knows that the Champions League is their biggest challenge this season. Indeed, the question is not really who will lift the 2015/16 Ligue 1 title, but how early PSG will wrap it up.
Having reached the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier continental club competition in each of the last three campaigns, PSG will be looking to go one better by reaching the last four this time around. It remains to be seen whether the relative lack of competition domestically will help or hinder that ambition.
About the Author – Greg Lea
Freelance football writer. Work published by FourFourTwo, The Guardian, World Soccer, Goal, The National, Squawka, Eurosport, The Blizzard + others.