PSG on brink of second straight Ligue 1 crown
published : 26 Apr 2014 at 10:49
Paris Saint-Germain can wrap up their second straight Ligue 1 title this weekend as relegation-threated Sochaux provide what could be their final obstacle on Sunday.
Paris Saint-Germain's Blaise Matuidi (R) is congratuled by teammates after scoring during the French L1 match vs Evian/Thonon on April 23, 2014 at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris
A 10-point lead, following a sparkling domestic campaign which has seen Laurent Blanc's side suffer just two defeats, means the title is theirs with a lunch-time win away to Sochaux or 24 hours earlier if Monaco lose at relegated Ajaccio.
Herve Renard, the flamboyant Sochaux coach who memorably led Zambia to their first African championship in 2012, has worked miracles to lift his men within three points of safety after taking over in mid-season.
The Frenchman would ideally hope PSG arrive at the Stade Auguste Bonal with the title wrapped up and in relaxed mood to face his players, who he told recently to "never give up" in their remarkable bid to avoid the drop.
While PSG's season was severely damaged by their Champions League quarter-final exit against Chelsea, a 2-1 victory in the League Cup final last weekend over Lyon and a laboured 1-0 midweek win over Evian has helped lift the gloom of another failed European campaign.
Blanc was hardly satisfied by the form of his players on Wednesday and is just eager to tie up the title race before deciding on his own future for next season.
"It wasn't our best match of course but we got the job done," said Blanc, following Blaise Matuidi's late winner against Evian.
"We have to improve (against Sochaux) or we'll have the same problems and it's up to the players and staff to think about this.
"Nothing is ever accomplished in football if you don't put in the necessary ingredients," continued the former Bordeaux and France coach.
"I have told the players that the title isn't won yet and we're still missing that final little effort but nothing is ever easy.
While few, if any, believe PSG can self-destruct from their position of power, a celebration has already been planned for the final day of the season on May 18 when Montpellier come to the capital's cauldron.
After the ugly scenes of violence and hooliganism that marred their trophy celebration last year, it has already decided there will be no party in the streets of Paris this time around.
Elsewhere, Lille have a stranglehold on third spot and carry a seven point advantage to Bordeaux, while their closest pursuers Saint-Etienne cling to a Europa League spot by just two points over bitter rivals Lyon.
Saint-Etienne are on the road at Evian on Saturday while Lyon, who were held 0-0 by Toulouse in midweek, host Bastia at their Stade Gerland 24 hours later.
French Cup finalists Guingamp have been sucked into a relegation dogfight and host an equally desperate Valenciennes outfit in a massive match to keep surging Sochaux at bay.
The Brittany club are just two points above Renard's side while Valenciennes are a further four adrift.
Nantes host Marseille in the only match on Friday while Lorient make the short trip to Rennes, Montpellier host Toulouse and Reims head south to Nice in the other Saturday fixtures.
Fixtures (1800 GMT unless stated):
Ajaccio v Monaco (1500), Rennes v Lorient, Montpellier v Toulouse, Nice v Reims, Evian v Saint-Etienne, Guingamp v Valenciennes
Sochaux v Paris Saint-Germain (1200), Lyon v Bastia (1500), Lille v Bordeaux (1900)