Paris Saint-Germain vs. Rennes: 6 Things We Learned
Paris Saint-Germain have successfully defended their Ligue 1 title and—in doing so—have won the club’s maiden league and domestic cup double as well as the first back-to-back titles in their 44-year history.
However, PSG did not even have to take to the Parc des Princes pitch in order to be crowned French champions. En Avant Guingamp’s 1-1 draw against AS Monaco at the Stade Louis II was enough to mean that the Parisians now cannot be caught with two matches remaining.
Ezequiel Lavezzi opened the scoring for the hosts in the third minute to get the party started early, but Foued Kadir and Paul-Georges Ntep cancelled out the Argentine’s strike before half-time in the surprise 2-1 triumph.
From then on, it never really looked like PSG were capable of dragging themselves back into the game and the side from the capital are now in danger of ambling over the finish line after throwing away what was a 13-point lead at one point this season.
Coach Laurent Blanc was disappointed that his players did not manage to celebrate the title triumph with a victory, but was delighted that the wait to seal the success is now over.
"This title is secured, that is the main thing. We found out just before we took to the pitch that we were champions. I'm not sure that is the best preparation for a match," he told PSG.fr (in French) after the final whistle. "There is happiness tonight, even if we would have preferred to celebrate the title with a win."
"It is a collective reward for 10 months of hard work. Now, to beat the points record (83 points) we need to achieve this in the last two games. We will try to do it, because this team deserves to break records."
Here are six things we learned from PSG’s surprise 2-1 home defeat to Rennes.
PSG Did Not Even Have to Kick a Ball to Defend Title
As it turned out on the night, PSG did not even need to kick a ball to be crowned champions for a second consecutive season. Guingamp’s draw at Monaco earlier in the evening meant that the Parc des Princes was already celebrating the capital club’s fourth Ligue 1 title before the game had even kicked off.
2007/08 - Le @PSG_inside est le premier club à conserver son titre en Ligue 1 depuis Lyon en 2007/08. Égoïste.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) May 7, 2014
It was just as well that Rennes’ Breton neighbours—and conquerors in the Coupe de France final last Saturday—did them a favour in the principality.
Despite taking the lead through Lavezzi’s straightforward finish in just the third minute, PSG delivered a flat performance in front of their jubilant supporters.
Had Monaco beaten Guingamp and PSG then played the same way, then Blanc and his players would have come in for fierce criticism once again. The 2-1 defeat takes some of the shine off of their latest title as the Parisians failed to re-open up a double-digit lead, having thrown one away in recent weeks.
Rennes React to Guingamp Embarrassment
Rennes coach Philippe Montanier reacted to his side’s poor performance in the Coupe de France final defeat to local rivals Guingamp by making a host of changes. Those decisions had the desired effect as the Breton outfit finally woke up in Paris.
Despite conceding an early opener, les Rouges et Noirs showed strong character and determination to force their way back into the game. There was certainly an element of luck about Ntep’s free-kick, but Rennes deserved that fortune to favour them on this occasion.
Overall, it was a merited victory and one that Montanier's side badly needed.
PSG Unbeaten Home Run Ends Where It Started
Unbeaten at home in Ligue 1 since the 17th of November 2012—also a 2-1 defeat to Rennes—PSG were finally beaten once again by the Breton side.
1 - PSG have only won once in their last 7 home league games against Rennes (D2, L4). Hoodoo.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) May 7, 2014
29 games later and the capital outfit were undone by les Rouges et Noirs once more—although this time Rennes finished the match with 11 men and not nine—and can have few complaints that they were unable to celebrate a second consecutive title with a victory on the night.
The recent complacency shown by PSG against Evian Thonon Gaillard and FC Sochaux Montbeliard was evident once again and the Parisians’ post-UEFA Champions League exit malaise continues to be a concern.
Rennes’ Ligue 1 Status Now Assured
With that 2-1 win in Paris, Rennes will definitely be staying in Ligue 1 next season. Montanier and his side have endured a difficult and largely disappointing season, but the team has managed to retain their Championnat status having looked too good to go down.
Now the Breton side can begin planning for next campaign and Montanier will feel like a massive weight has been lifted from his shoulders.
Les Rouges et Noirs' performance on the night was deserving of the three points, and PSG’s woeful showing should not detract from that. Aside from a second-half penalty appeal that was turned down, the hosts can have few complaints about the result.
However, the players did not look as if they were bothered enough to complain too much. PSG celebrated the title after the final whistle, but Rennes rejoiced in knowing that they will remain a Ligue 1 side.
Zlat Is Back!
Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his return to first team action after a month out injured, and the Swede was visibly eager to make up for the lost time. Brought on as a 56th-minute substitute, the 32-year-old looked rusty at moments but has lost none of his insatiable hunger.
The talismanic striker was left frustrated on the night by his teammates’ laziness, and he stormed off down the tunnel at full-time looking too embarrassed to celebrate the title after such an inept showing.
Still on 25 goals for the season, Ibrahimovic now has two games remaining in order to better last season’s total of 30 Ligue 1 goals.
Benoit Costil—Ligue 1’s Most Underrated Goalkeeper?
The Ligue 1 goalkeeper of the year shortlist was revealed last week, and Rennes’ Benoit Costil was notable only in his absence from the list.
Despite playing for the struggling Breton outfit this season, the 26-year-old Frenchman arguably deserved to be recognised for his impressive campaign. One of le Championnat’s most underrated goalkeepers, Costil will be deserving of a France call-up if he can transfer this season’s form to next term.
On the night, the Rennes custodian made a number of excellent saves and put in a strong, assured performance to help his side emerge with three precious points.
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