Paris set for title party against Monaco
By A. Scott
Champions Paris Saint-Germain run out at the Parc des Princes for the first time since clinching the Ligue 1 title when they entertain second-placed AS Monaco on Sunday evening.
Paris Saint-Germain - AS Monaco
Laurent Blanc's side were confirmed as champions for the fourth season in succession with eight matches to spare last weekend when they won 9-0 at bottom side ESTAC Troyes to set a new record for the biggest ever away win in the top flight.
That result left Paris an unassailable 25 points clear of Monaco in a season which has seen them utterly dominate the French game. The capital club will now be able to concentrate on other objectives after the international break - April will see them go to FC Lorient in the Coupe de France semi-finals and play LOSC in the Coupe de la Ligue final as well as take on Manchester City in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
However, before that Paris will look to celebrate their title triumph in style by beating their closest 'rivals' in Ligue 1 this season and maintain an unbeaten home league record stretching back to May 2014.
"Against Monaco there will be plenty of people in the ground and I hope the Parc will be full so we can celebrate the title with our supporters," said Blanc after the Troyes victory as he insisted there would be no relaxing from his side despite having the league sewn up.
"Now we will endeavour to be as professional as possible, although we will also make the most of the luxury of being champions by rotating the squad and resting players. But the satisfying thing for us is that every line-up this season has been different and yet we have taken points regardless of the team sent out."
Monaco have been their most consistent challengers in the three seasons since they returned to the top flight, pushing PSG close in 2014 and then finishing third last season before emerging from the pack as the favourites to end this campaign as runners-up.
PSG are unbeaten in their last nine meetings with the principality club in all competitions, including a 3-0 victory at the Stade Louis II in August that quickly doused any hope of a genuine title push by Leonardo Jardim's side. However, Monaco have not lost a league game at the Parc des Princes since 2007 and there is certainly more for them to play for this weekend.
Monaco are unbeaten in seven Ligue 1 games and have lost just once in 17, but the reason PSG were able to become champions so soon was also because Jardim's side have struggled a little recently. Indeed, they have drawn their last three games, including a 2-2 stalemate at home to Stade de Reims last weekend, when Vagner Love twice put them in front but they were unable to hold on.
Holding on to second spot and automatic qualification for next season's Champions League group stage is the objective for Jardim and his team, who finished last weekend five points clear of Côte d'Azur rivals OGC Nice in third.
"PSG are a great team with great players. We know it is going to be very difficult against them," Thomas Lemar told Monaco's in-house television channel. "But we will go into the game like we go into every match, with the aim of picking up points.
"They will want to celebrate winning the title in front of their fans, especially playing against us, their closest challenger. It will be complicated, but we will give everything."
Monaco's task will not be made any easier with three of their key creative threats ruled out of the game. João Moutinho is out for a month with an ankle injury, while Bernardo Silva serves a one-match ban and Moroccan international Nabil Dirar is still serving an eight-game suspension following a confrontation with the referee after last month's derby win against Nice.
While Blanc has promised to make changes to his line-up, playmaker Marco Verratti will not be involved as he continues to nurse a hernia - he travelled to Qatar for tests this week. In addition, Serge Aurier is still suspended by the club for an internal disciplinary breach.
Paris SG: Trapp; Marquinhos, Silva (c), Luiz, Maxwell; Rabiot, Motta, Matuidi; Di María, Ibrahimovic, Lucas Moura
Monaco: Subasic; Raggi, Wallace, Carvalho, Echiejile; Fabinho, Toulalan, Bakayoko; Lemar, Vagner Love, Costa (or Mbappé)