PSG concludes a mixed season

“You always have to believe in football. It’s a principle. We will try to win. ” Mauricio Pochettino, Paris-Saint-Germain coach, was confident at the pre-match press conference. In Brest, his players respected the contract, Sunday 23 May during the 38e and last day of the French Ligue 1 championship, allowing them to dream of the title again by winning 2-0. But at the same time Lille, for its part, did not give in on the lawn of Angers (1-2) and deprives PSG of a tenth coronation which would have seen him join Saint-Etienne at the top of the list of Ligue 1.

Relive the live: Lille crowned French Ligue 1 champion, PSG second

Four years later, the Parisians suffered a new affront, with a taste all the more bitter. In 2017, Monaco totaled 95 points while Lille has 83 at the end of this 2020-2021 championship, one unit more than Paris. This does not make him a less beautiful champion of France but accredits the thesis delivered by Kylian Mbappé at the beginning of the month. “If we lose this championship, it is we who lost it, not them [les Lillois] who won it “, declared the French international after the qualification of his team in the final of the Coupe de France.

Mbappé ensures, Neymar disappoints

Sunday, in the rain of the Francis-Le Blé stadium in Brest, which was fighting for its maintenance – finally acquired – PSG made ” work “, as Kylian Mbappé had stated before the game. He was not brilliant, like his season in short, but the capital club signed a 26e success. No one has won so much in Ligue 1 but Pochettino certainly won’t be satisfied.

As often this year, Kylian Mbappé shone as much as Neymar disappointed. The Brazilian missed the opening goal (19e) by sending his penalty next to the goals of Gautier Larsonneur. This is only the second penalty missed by Neymar in 24 attempts since his arrival in Paris. Angel Di Maria still allowed PSG to join the locker room in front of the score thanks to a magnificent incoming corner (37e), deviated into his own goal by Romain Faivre. In the second half, the Argentine served Kylian Mbappé in depth who took advantage of his speed to dribble the Brest goalkeeper and extend the ball into empty goals (71e). But nearly 400 kilometers further east, Lille won, making the Parisian victory and any hope of a title in vain.

Since the arrival in 2011 of the Qatari owners, the championship is however the minimum contract to be fulfilled to establish Parisian domination. The success of PSG is not to be judged by the sole yardstick of Ligue 1, which it must win, but rather by its results on a European scale. “When I arrived in this club, I knew that the possibilities were to win or win”, imaged midfielder Ander Herrera this week. As in 2017, the failure of this year is just as resounding but yet not sportingly illogical.

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Waste in the face of direct competitors

The players of the capital have lost eight times this season in the league, including five times at the Parc des Princes, which had never happened to them under the Qatari era. Beating PSG was a form of feat in the past years, it was no longer in 2020-2021, especially in matches against its closest rivals, title contenders. Against Lille, Monaco and Lyon, Neymar’s teammates took only 4 points out of 18 possible. The defeat at home against LOSC (0-1) on the evening of the 31st day notably allowed the Northerners to regain control of the standings. A position that they then never let go.

PSG did not stall only against the top teams. Precious points flown in Lorient (3-2), against Nantes (1-2) or even at the start of the season with two setbacks in three days against Lens (1-0) and Marseille (0-1).

Thomas Tuchel was responsible for the failure according to Parisian leaders. He was sacked on December 24, 2020. Argentinian Mauricio Pochettino took over, without further success since the two coaches had four defeats each.

PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino during his team's victory in Brest on Sunday 23 May.

Paradoxically, while Ligue 1 usually saved the appearances of a disappointing PSG on the continental scene, the Champions League journey represents the only positive note of the season – besides victory in the Coupe de France. Admittedly, the Parisians have still not achieved the supreme objective of their leaders to win the cup with big ears, but his journey to the semi-finals has almost as much flavor as the final of last August. With the successive eliminations of Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Paris joined the last four in the classic format of the queen European competition, in a two-way confrontation, unlike the very particular format of the Final 8 in Lisbon.

“We must focus on the future”

” There’s no problem. We lost the title, now we have to focus on the future ”, projected Kylian Mbappé at the microphone of Canal + after the meeting. The Coupe de France gleaned Wednesday, May 19 against Monaco (2-0) is obviously not enough for the Parisians who hope to do better next season. With or without Mbappé? The debate will not fail to ignite the summer period while the top scorer in Ligue 1 (27 goals) has still not extended, one year from the end of his contract.

“Don’t worry, let us do the work. Mbappé is Parisian ”, swept President Nasser Al-Khelaïfi after the match. On the contrary, the Brazilian star Neymar signed until 2025 but without having as much influence as the star of the Blues on the grounds of Ligue 1. Coronavirus, adductors, ankle, suspensions: the former Barcelona played only 18 Championship games with only 9 goals (including 5 from penalties) and 6 assists on the clock.

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The reconquest of the title will necessarily go through a Neymar in full possession of his means. A second untitled season is unthinkable given the Parisian goals. “We are an ambitious project and we will have ambitions this summer. Even financially “, insisted on reminding Nasser Al-Khelaïfi.