PSG has singlehandedly made a mockery of Ligue 1 for more than a few years now. They’ve made a habit of beating teams to a pulp, hoisting the league trophy every single season since 2012.
In fact, last season, Paris Saint-Germain won the domestic title with eight games left to play — the quickest title-clinching in the history of Europe’s top 5 leagues. They left Lyon, the unfortunate second place finishers and arguably their most competitive rivals, in the dust. By the end of league play, Lyon was staring up the table at an absolutely stupid 31-point gap.
— PSG English (@PSG_English) March 13, 2016
It has to be said that Zlatan Ibrahimović’s goals did wonders for Les Parisiens. The giant Swede hammered in 38 league goals in just 31 appearances before jetting off to Manchester United in the summer.
PSG knew that replacing Ibra’s star status, much less his mammoth goal tally, would be a tough ask. Ultimately, after serious pursuits for the likes of Neymar, James Rodríguez and even Ronaldo before he re-committed to Real Madrid, PSG wasn’t able to sign another world-renowned player.
So…the million-dollar question: who picks up the slack this year if Paris-Saint Germain’s league dominance is to be continued? Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani had been relegated to the left wing position for much of Ibra’s reign as top dog. PSG’s failure to sign a replacement striker opened the door for Cavani to cement his starting striker spot.
Thus far, though, the new season has been one big blur of missed chances and embarrassingly bad finishing for the man who probably won’t deserve his nickname, El Matador, much longer. As was the case during the summer with Uruguay’s national team and in Tuesday’s Champions League game against Arsenal, Cavani routinely walks off the pitch with four or five clear scoring chances missed. Take a look:
If Edinson Cavani makes his habit of dropping stink bombs in the opposing penalty box a permanent one, PSG might suffer more than we can imagine. Zlatan’s hat tricks are long gone– leaving the smaller fish of Ligue 1 within striking distance during games could see lots of points spiral down the drain.
PSG has joined Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Juventus and others as sides who have spent their way into sky-high Champions League expectations. All of those teams would be displeased with anything less than a place in the semi-finals, even with Barcelona and Real Madrid still as dominant as ever. If PSG take their foot off the gas in league play to focus on the latter stages of Champions League (assuming they avoid a shock defeat early on), they could end up screwed out of both.
Would Les Parisiens sacrifice their fifth consecutive league title to push harder for the Champions League trophy? More importantly, is PSG an all-around solid team, or just above average in a terrible league? This season is shaping up to give us the answers.