Can Paris St-Germain challenge Bordeaux for the Ligue 1 title?
Going into the 2009-2010 season, all the talk was about Bordeaux, Lyon and, of course, Marseille. These teams were expected to dominate the season, and so far, they have. But was there another team that can sneak in? Is there a team that maybe has a chance of taking away the title away from Les Girondins?
Possbily…and that team is Paris Saint-Germain.
I know, I know, I have been someone who has knocked PSG for some time. I have said that they, along with Monaco, have been the pretending snobs of Ligue 1. Everyone expects them to do something every season, like win the title. And I have always said that the club and many fans have the attitude of “we are the best in Ligue 1.” And yet every season they fall short. Since the 2003-2004 season, PSG has looked quite horrible. Two years ago, they had to fight being relegated.
But this year seems different. This year they have looked really good and have to be quite happy with their current form of play. Yes, they did lose to AS Monaco two weeks ago, but if anyone watched that game, PSG could have won the match (and maybe should have) as much as Monaco did win it.
So can PSG continue to impress this year? We shall see.
Transfer cup play success to Ligue 1 wins.
They will have to change the way that they run things compared to have they have done things in the past. And one of those changes will be to work as hard in Ligue 1 as they do in cup play. If anyone follows PSG, they seem to do well in Ligue 1 until it is time to start doing domestic cup play. After that point, PSG seems to fall apart in the league, while doing quite successfully in their cup runs. Therefore, we know that they know how to win, but they need to do it in both Ligue 1 and cup play. If they played as well in Ligue 1 as they have in cup play, they would have been in European competition a few of those years.
Transfers in outweigh transfers out
How a team plays the transfer market can determine how a team plays, especially in Ligue 1. Unlike other league, which keep players for years and years, Ligue 1 has a tendency of drastically changing their teams year after year because foreign clubs come in and offer huge sums of money to the smaller French clubs and large contracts to their players.
Therefore, who a team brings in and how they play as a new team can determine how they will play the season.
The first big signing to PSG has to be manager, and former PSG player, Antoine Kombouaré. In his managing career, Kombouaré had done a great job promoting Valencienne to Ligue 1 and keeping them out of the regulation zone since then. A bit of a hot-head though, Kombouaré knows what it takes to fire up his players, and their passionate play on the field so far has shown that, even from players that are new to the team.
On the field, PSG brought in a number of good players that have already shown what they are capable of. Until his injury last week, Turkish striker Mevlüt Erdinç has shown his impact offensively. Also, former Lorient player Christophe Jallet has also, oddly, shown his scoring ability as well. Could this ex-defender be the offensive threat on the left side while Stéphane Sessegnon serves a two-game suspension? Maybe.
With the addition of these players, PSG has done a good job of spreading the ball around and creating scoring opportunities throughout the field. Unlike a team like Toulouse, where most of their scoring chances usually center around Andre-Pierre Gignac (even though they do have great offensive players like Didot and Braaten), Paris Saint-Germain makes it hard for opposing defenses to predict their moves. This seems to be a system that PSG have executed quite successfully, while Marseille have not.
But the biggest transfer into the team has to be Gregory Coupet. I have emphasised in the past that what makes a team successful is the leadership on the field. Zidane showed that quality throughout his years of playing for France, and something that the current national team seems to be lacking (sorry Theirry). With Coupet, they have added a player that is highly respected around the French football community and that is a good on field leader, even if he happens to be in goal. Therefore, PSG have two great on-field generals in Claude Makélélé and, now, Gregory Coupet.
Don’t get me wrong, I have always thought that Mickaël Landreau was a quality goaltender and should have had more chances on the French national team, but Coupet brings a lot more leadership to the goaltending role.
Sunday will tell the tale.
Sunday is it. Sunday is when PSG have to make their statement against a Lyon team that has looked quite strong this season. If they can defeat Lyon at home, then they have a great chance to show the league that this team is for real.
But they do have to win. Two weeks ago, Bordeaux and Marseille played to a scoreless draw. And I said in a post a few weeks ago that if Marseille want to be considered title-contenders, then they have to beat the current champions at home, and they didn’t.
The same thing goes for PSG. They need to beat Lyon at home. Still, if they end up with a draw, it won’t be as bad for PSG as it is for Marseille because nobody put PSG in this position at the beginning of the season anyway. Still, if they do win, this would hopefully give the Paris side enough momentum to get past the next few matches, which are against good quality, mid-table teams (Toulouse, Nancy, Lorient) that can always give top teams quite a scare.
So, are PSG ready to be put in the spotlight? I think so. After years and years of ‘acting’ like they could be title contenders, this year they actually look like they ‘could’ be title contenders.