Paris (AFP) – Paris Saint-Germain have won seven of the last eight Ligue 1 titles but there is a real chance this season that the Qatar-owned club could miss out on a prize that usually seems destined for them even before a ball has been kicked.
A year ago this weekend the 2019/20 season was halted because of the Covid-19 pandemic, never to restart. With 10 rounds left unplayed, PSG were 12 points clear of Marseille in second with a game in hand, and were eventually named champions.
This time around the capital club are second with 10 matches remaining, trailing leaders Lille by two points and sitting one point above Lyon in third.
Mauricio Pochettino’s team are through to the Champions League quarter-finals, but their domestic form has given hope to their rivals.
So will they overhaul Lille and see off Lyon, as well as Monaco in fourth, to retain the trophy?
A home meeting with struggling Nantes on Sunday should not cause many problems for Paris, who could have Neymar back after a month out.
Yet PSG’s form against their title rivals has not convinced. They drew at Lille, lost at home to Lyon and have been beaten twice by Monaco.
Much will therefore come down to their next two league games after this weekend, with a trip to Lyon followed by a home game against Lille.
“We know we have 10 matches left, and with the head to heads we will be champions if we win all these games,” Pochettino pointed out last week.
Meanwhile Christophe Galtier’s Lille are unbeaten in 10 games but on Sunday they go to Monaco, who are fourth and had gone 12 unbeaten before losing at Strasbourg last time out.
Lille also still have to visit Lyon, whose coach Rudi Garcia was in charge of the northerners in their last title-winning campaign a decade ago.
However, Lyon’s best form recently has come away, and their primary objective remains holding off Monaco to secure a top-three place after missing out on the Champions League this season. They face Reims away on Friday and still have to visit Monaco in May.
“Not all of the sides around us will take three points this weekend because Lille and Monaco play each other. We can only make up points on one or both of them if we beat Reims, so we need to make sure we win,” insisted Garcia.
In the meantime, PSG’s firepower means they remain the favourites, but it is refreshing that for once they have not run away with the Ligue 1 title.
Player to watch: Jonathan David
The Canada striker had a slow start to life at Lille after signing from Belgian side Gent but he has played a key role in recent weeks in helping his new club stay top of Ligue 1.
David, 21, scored just twice in his first 19 league appearances for Lille but has netted seven in nine since, including a vital late double in a 2-0 win over Marseille last week.
He has scored winning goals in four games since mid-January, and also got the opener when Lille beat Monaco 2-1 when the sides last met in December.
3 – Three points separate Lille in first from Lyon in third. Eighteen points separated first from third at the same stage last season.
8 – Lille will be looking for an eighth straight away league win when they head to Monaco.
1 – Jorge Sampaoli has one win from one game so far in charge of Marseille after beating Rennes on his debut in midweek.
Fixtures (Kick-offs GMT)
Reims v Lyon (2000)
Angers v Saint-Etienne (1200), Marseille v Brest (1600)
Nimes v Montpellier (1200), Dijon v Bordeaux, Lens v Metz, Lorient v Nice, Rennes v Strasbourg (all 1400), Monaco v Lille (1605), Paris Saint-Germain v Nantes (2000)
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