PSG vs. Lyon vs. Marseille: Which Club Deserves to Win French Ligue 1 and Why?
It has been a season full of twists and turns in Ligue 1 and a title race full of frustration. Each side seems unable to fully capitalise on their rivals’ mistakes to really open up a commanding lead.
Paris Saint-Germain lead by four points over Lyon currently and are seven clear of bitter rivals Marseille. Yet that is closer than was expected at the start of the season when PSG were predicted to sweep all before them and march to the title.
That has not happened and Lyon have emerged as the capital club’s most serious challengers over the course of the season thus far, despite a valiant early effort from OM.
Here is a closer look at why these team deserve or don’t deserve to win this season’s title.
PSG were the preseason title favourites and for good reason.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men have the strongest team on paper and on the pitch, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic has lived up to his star billing and scored more goals than some entire teams have managed all campaign.
PSG deserve the title because over the course of an up-and-down season where their form has not been perfect, it has still been more consistent than both of their title rivals'.
Ancelotti’s side have thrown away silly points, but OL and OM have not once capitalised on an opportunity thrown their way by PSG.
For a team that was once again new at the start of the season and under tremendous pressure due to the large amounts of money spent in second year of new ownership and necessity to win a first domestic title in 19 years, they have coped remarkably well.
For such a young team, Lyon’s title challenge this season has been very impressive.
Remi Garde has forged a strong squad from OL’s bountiful youth academy, and they have chased PSG for the best part of the season.
With OL President Jean-Michel Aulas constantly trimming the wage bill and allowing big-name players to depart, Garde has kept his squad focused and relatively consistent; that is commendable.
A Champions League spot is deserved, of course, but a title is still looking a bit shaky given the fact that the team crumble when the pressure is on and PSG have ceded them an opportunity to blow the race wide open with a poor result.
That is down to inexperience and naivety, something that will be cured in time as this talented squad matures.
The biggest problem for OL arguably is that their squad, whilst brimming with potential ability and excitement, cannot compete with PSG when it comes to big-game experience.
Marseille’s title challenge, if we can call it that now as it fades away rapidly, has been a huge improvement on last season’s 10th place (their lowest finish since 5th in 2005/2006).
But their recent form has exposed the limitations of the current squad and perhaps illustrated that it is time for a few top talents to move on.
To still be in with a shout of the title is an impressive effort from Elie Baup’s side, and Baup himself who was roundly criticised when he took the reins.
However, the former Bordeaux title-winning coach has justified his appointment and rejuvenated a squad that was misfiring under Didier Deschamps.
However, that is not enough. Andre-Pierre Gignac is perhaps the player who has been most transformed under Baup, but even his nine league goals have not been enough to keep OM in direct contention with PSG and Lyon.
The league match with PSG at the Parc des Princes perhaps best demonstrated this. A Mathieu Valbuena-inspired OM side dominated their bitter rivals for large parts of the match, only to come up short with a lack of cutting edge.
This lack of firepower and the ability to come up big when it really matters is what will cost OM the title this season.
So Who Will Win It?
It has got to be PSG. They have the talent and the experience to see this through. More so than last year and neither Lyon nor Marseille are pushing them as close as Montpellier did last year.
If the pair continue to let PSG off the hook each time they drop points, then neither team deserve to usurp Ancelotti's side at the top of table.
Because, for all of their disappointing results and the criticism that the club has received, PSG are still by far the most consistent team in Ligue 1.