Just a focus on Ligue 1’s first and last today.
On est les Champions!
Hardly exciting world-changing news, but it seems only right to begin with PSG, who regained the Ligue 1 title with a win over last season’s usurpers Monaco.
Securing the championship – over their closest rivals at that – with an imperious 7-1 win, including four stunning goals in the first half hour, highlights the gulf between PSG and the rest. Helped by the fact that Monaco sold off half their title-winning team in the summer, this season has been a cake-walk – although bear in mind, Ligue 1 critics, that Manchester City won their title earlier! With the Coupe de la Ligue already won, and the Coupe de France likely to follow, another domestic treble beckons.
Champions of France 🇫🇷👑
PSG put seven past Monaco as they sealed the title in Paris.
Demolition 🔥 pic.twitter.com/50xZu2h1B8
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 15, 2018
Yet again, however, this all feels like a glorified consolation prize for the club. With their resources and domestic dominance, they should be judged on their Champions League performances – which have again disappointed this season.
The problem for them is not a lack of week in-week out competition – look at Bayern, after all! Rather, the side features a number of players who enjoy the big fish in small pond status – I’m especially looking at you, Thiago Silva! – arrogantly strutting their stuff against domestic minnows, but going mentally missing in the matches that really count. As Adrien Rabiot – funnily enough another of those against whom the accusation could be levelled – said after the first leg defeat to Real Madrid, it’s all very well beating Dijon 8-0, but that means little when losing those big matches.
There’s also the fact that Nasser al-Khelaifi – a glorified Ron Noades – thinks that he knows about football. PSG have desperately needed a top-class goalkeeper, centre-back, defensive midfielder, and arguably coach too, for several years. They instead blew all their cash on two strikers. They will never take the next step as long as the big transfer calls are being made by an average tennis player who happens to have super-rich friends, and who then exacerbates the situation by making some of those players appear bigger than the club.
On which, by the way, Neymar couldn’t even be bothered to attend the Parc des Princes last night for his team’s coronation, instead playing online poker at home in Brazil. Perhaps this in itself goes a long way towards explaining PSG’s failure to progress on the continental stage.
One more thing, Ligue 1 critics and Premier League advocates…
A reminder that Manchester City – with similar resources coming from similarly distasteful owners – have a similarly disappointing Champions League record. And they’ve been spending their superbucks for a far longer period than PSG – so some of the schadenfreudlich PSG-bashing this season has been a bit overblown.
La Lanterne Rouge…
Declaration of interest: I am a Metz fan…
Move over Sharp and Heath. Romario and Bebeto. Henry and Bergkamp. Derek and Clive. Are we currently witnessing one of the best offensive pairings ever? And – weirdly – at totally the wrong end of the table?
FC Metz have been atrocious this season. After an awful summer transfer window, they were one of the favourites to go down. They managed only one win and one draw from their first 16 matches. As late as 15 December, they had only scored seven league goals. They failed to win a league match at home until even later – 20 December! They found a little patch of form around Christmas and January, but then failed to win any of their next ten; their latest humiliation was a 0-5 home defeat to Lyon last week. As they approached this weekend’s match against fifth-placed, in-form Rennes, the only surprise was that they were still only eight points from safety.
That Metz aren’t already long-since down is thanks to two of those summer signings. Incoming journeymen striker Nolan Roux and winger Mathieu Dossevi hardly set Messin pulses racing at the time. However, their performances this season, particularly in such a poor team, have been stunning. They were at it again on Saturday night: two Dossevi assists, both for Roux, enabled Metz to come from a goal down to claim a shock win.
Togolese international Dossevi now has ten assists, bettered only by Dimitri Payet and Neymar. Roux has a career-best 14 goals – which have directly resulted in 13 points for Metz – over half their current 25. His haul puts him ahead of Kylian Mbappe in the scoring charts, and six of those goals have been delivered by Dossevi – only Neymar to Edinson Cavani is a more productive partnership.
Les 14 buts buts de Nolan #Roux cette saison, c'est 13 points offerts au @FCMetz. Incroyable !
– 3 à Angers (1-0)
– 1 à Dijon (1-1)
– 3 contre Nice (2-1)
– 1 à Guingamp (2-2)
– 1 contre Toulouse (1-1)
– 1 contre Nantes (1-1)
– 3 à Rennes (2-1) pic.twitter.com/IbxXvGNXMx
— Antoine Raguin (@AntoineRaguin) April 15, 2018
Metz’s chances of survival are still slim – they remain five points from safety and four from the promotion/relegation play-off place. But their next four matches are against four other relegation candidates (including Lille, who managed to draw 2-2 against Guingamp after entering the 90th minute 2-0 up). And while there’s life – and more importantly, while there’s Dossevi and Roux – there’s hope.