Paris Saint-Germain finished a bittersweet 2018-19 campaign on a low on Friday, as they were defeated 3-1 by Stade Reims in Ligue 1 at the Stade Auguste-Delaune II.
The champions were lacklustre in the first period and run ragged by their hosts. On 36 minutes, Reims' Chelsea loanee Baba Rahman opened the scoring at the end of a slick move.
After the break, Reims continued to attack and doubled their lead through Mathieu Cafaro's low finish after 56 minutes. Kylian Mbappe was able to give PSG a foothold in the game three minutes later, but a below-par PSG were unable to force an equaliser. In the end, Reims added another in the 94th minute through Pablo Chavarria.
The capital club have long been confirmed as Ligue 1 winners and after this final round of fixtures they finished up 16 points ahead of nearest rivals Lille.
PSG lined up for this encounter without Neymar, as he was suspended. Per French football journalist Jeremy Smith, manager Thomas Tuchel still wanted the forward to be with the team, however, he returned to Brazil:
Even without Neymar, the champions were able to go with a strong XI, with Mbappe and Edinson Cavani up top. It appeared minds were elsewhere in the early stages, though.
Reims have been enjoying a decent campaign and appeared determined to give their fans a proper sendoff in the final game of 2018-19. Remi Oudin brought a fine save out of Gianluigi Buffon and then Moussa Doumbia rattled a shot against the crossbar after Marco Verratti was caught on the ball.
Eventually, the home side got the goal their first-half dominance deserved, as Oudin fed Baba Rahman, who was able to slam home a shot from the narrowest of angles.
PSG were unable to respond before the interval and despite having so much firepower on the pitch, failed to register a shot on target before the break. As the TotalBarca account noted, Mbappe's quest to draw level with Lionel Messi in the battle for the Golden Shoe wasn't going well:
While they needed to improve in attack, in the second half Thomas Tuchel would have wanted to see his team tighten up defensively. PSG continued to play without cohesion though.
Cafaro was given too much time on the edge of the area and his low shot was too strong for Buffon, who could only palm the ball over the line via the post. Smith suggested the 'keeper could have done a better:
That goal was enough to finally spark the Parisians into life and within three minutes they had halved the deficit. Mbappe was alert in the area to turn in Cavani's cushioned header and ignite hopes of a PSG fightback.
The goal was a landmark one for the young forward:
It also meant PSG completed a season in which they scored in every game:
Unsurprisingly, it was the away side applying most of the pressure in the final stages of the game. However, they were unable to test Reims goalkeeper Edouard Mendy frequently enough and the home side eventually extended their lead, with Chavarria catching out the PSG defence deep into injury time.
The result was another disappointing one in a poor recent run for PSG. While they finished the season with the Ligue 1 title, their late-season collapse and poor performance in the UEFA Champions League leaves Tuchel will a lot of work to do this summer.