Ligue 1: PSG on Verge of Clinching Title

May 11, 2015 by Alex Baker

It seemed to finally come together for Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 on Friday as Les Parisiens put on a command performance, demolishing Guingamp 6-0 at the Parc du Princes. A hat trick from Edinson Cavani, a brace from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and a single goal from Maxwell put PSG well out of reach for the mid-table side. The win put PSG in pole position for their third consecutive Ligue 1 title, and thanks to Lyon’s 3-0 loss to Caen Sunday, PSG can clinch with just a single point against Montpellier next week.

With two rounds left to play, PSG are six points clear of Lyon and have a superior goal differential. Ibrahimovic’s return from his recent suspension has come just in time for the club. The Swede has been in rampant form since his return. In addition to his two goals against Caen, he assisted Cavani’s second goal along with Maxwell’s. Zlatan’s return along with elimination from the Champions League seem to have given Laurent Blanc’s team the boost it needed to make it over the line in a Ligue 1 season that’s been tougher than expected for the capital club.

Overhauled by Marcelo Bielsa’s rampant Marseille side early in the season, and then by Lyon later on, Blanc’s side have rarely occupied the top spot this season. In fact, they were sitting in fourth place just a few weeks ago. But PSG always remained within touching distance and there was the underlying sense that with the club’s Qatari wealth and superstar players, the title would inevitably be theirs.

Still, Marseille made a credible showing early on. The team, which last won the title in 2010, took to Bielsa’s high-pressing, attack-minded style and were the in-form team in France for the first half of the season. In particular, striker Andre Pierre-Gignac’s good form propelled Marseille to the top of the standings, and as his hot streak cooled, Alexander Lacazette’s was just getting started for Lyon. Lacazette is the leading scorer in Ligue 1 this season. His 27 league goals gave Lyon a legitimate shot at wresting the title from PSG’s grasp in the latter half of the season.

Alas, it was not to be. A first half double from Caen’s Nicolas Benezet followed by a second half goal from Sloan Privat ended Lyon’s title hopes on Sunday. Six points behind PSG and with an inferior goal differential, Lyon at least have a lock on second place and automatic Champions League qualification.

In the race for the other European spots, fourth-place Marseille beat third-place Monaco Sunday to close the gap to just two points between the teams. Meaning both still have a shot at making it into the qualifying rounds of the Champions League. Fifth place St. Etienne demolished Nice 5-0 on Sunday, and also still have a shot at third and possible Champions League football. The fourth and fifth place teams will play in the Europa League.

At the other end of the table, Lens and Metz have already been relegated. Evian lost to Reims Saturday and are looking the most likely candidate to join them. Although Toulouse, Nice, Lorient and Caen could technically all still fall into the drop zone. While the title race may effectively over, with two rounds left to go, there’s still a lot to play for in Ligue 1.

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