Four-star Zlatan Ibrahimovic leads PSG to Ligue 1 crown in record fashion
Troyes 0 Paris Saint-Germain 9
PSG Cavani 13’, 75’, Pastore 17’, Rabiot 19’, Ibrahimovic 46’, 52’, 55’, 88’, Saunier 58’ (og)
Along with the satisfaction of reaching the Uefa Champions League quarter-finals last midweek, Paris Saint-Germain may also have felt considerable relief at prolonging their European adventure.
After all, a failure to make it four consecutive appearances in the last eight of Europe’s elite club competition would have made for a rather anti-climactic end to the season.
PSG celebrated winning a fourth successive French Ligue 1 title on Sunday, their sixth overall, with a 9-0 victory at bottom side Troyes.
Laurent Blanc’s team are the earliest champions in the history of the French game, with eight matches and two months of the season remaining.
“We have been top right from the start. I don’t know if we’ll ever manage to repeat such a performance,” said Blanc this weekend.
Paris will now hope to go and complete a clean sweep of the domestic trophies for the second year running, with a French Cup semi-final at Lorient and the League Cup final against Lille to come in April.
That is certainly not to be sniffed at, but they measure themselves now against the continent’s best in the Champions League, and there will be no euphoria at winning a league in which their domination has become abysmal.
Before a 2-1 defeat at Lyon two weeks ago, they had gone a record 36 Ligue 1 games unbeaten since March 2015, and despite that solitary loss, PSG are on course to break their own record for the highest points total in France’s top flight.
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These are heady times to be a supporter of the French capital’s only top-flight side, and yet even they seem to regret the fact their team’s superiority is so emphatic.
A quick glance at the French league’s official attendance records suggests that PSG are the country’s best supported team, with average crowds of over 46,000 selling out the Parc des Princes.
The reality, though, is somewhat different. Many season ticket holders only turn up for the biggest games, leaving thousands of empty seats and little of the once raucous atmosphere the rest of the time.
That contrasts with the way things used to be, even in the last decade when PSG plunged the depths of mediocrity.
Players and officials alike have expressed frustration at a support who often only make themselves heard to whistle their team on the rare occasions when they are not winning, or not winning well enough.
“Sometimes the crowd at the Parc can be too calm, and some of the whistles...I don’t understand them,” Paris president Nasser al-Khelaifi told Le Figaro in December.
Blanc’s side deserve better, but there is not much they can do when opposition teams occasionally rest key players in Paris, accepting defeat before the game has begun.
PSG are not playing in the same league as the rest of France, such a monster have they become since the Qatari takeover of 2011.
Talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, in possibly his last season in France, has again gone past the 30-goal mark, while the arrival of Angel Di Maria and emergence of Lucas Moura have helped take PSG to another level at times.
But the rest of the continent looks down on the lack of competition in Ligue 1 and an appearance in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time since 1995 is necessary for PSG to be fully respected abroad.
However, Paris have been quick to stress that their domestic dominance is not all their fault, with the failings of their potential rivals also to blame.
Monaco did not take long to give up on competing with Paris and switch their focus to bringing through young talent to sell on for profit.
They have fewer points at this stage than any second-placed team since Lens in 2007, while Lyon and Marseille have had their own problems, allowing PSG to turn Ligue 1 into one of the most one-sided leagues in Europe.
“We have done our job. Our rivals have not done what they needed to do against the other teams in order to keep up,” Blanc said.
It may be some time yet before anyone else comes close to taking their crown away from them.
Recent French Leagie 1 champions
2015-16: Paris Saint-Germain
2014-15: Paris Saint-Germain
2013-14: Paris Saint-Germain
2012-13: Paris Saint-Germain
Most overall titles
Saint-Etienne: 10 (1957, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1981)
Marseille: 9 (1937, 1948, 1971, 1972, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 2010)
Nantes: 8 (1965, 1966, 1973, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1995, 2001)
Monaco: 7 (1961, 1963, 1978, 1982, 1988, 1997, 2000)
Lyon: 7 (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)
Reims: 6 (1949, 1953, 1955, 1958, 1960, 1962)
Bordeaux: 6 (1950, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1999, 2009)
Paris Saint-Germain: 6 (1986, 1994, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016)
Nice: 4 (1951, 1952, 1956, 1959)
Lille: 3 (1946, 1954, 2011)
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