Week 38 review: PSG celebrate title in style!
PSG celebrated their fourth-straight Ligue 1 title with a fitting send-off for Zlatan Ibrahimovic; Toulouse pulled off a great escape with a dramatic late win; LOSC clinched a European berth while Reims and Gazélec were relegated.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic announcing on Friday morning that Saturday's Week 38 clash with Nantes would be his last Paris Saint-Germain appearance at the Parc des Princes, it was always going to be a momentous evening in the capital. However, the stadium, the club and the city were sent into raptures just minutes before the final whistle as the giant Swede headed home to complete his brace and break Carlos Bianchi's 39-year-old record of 37 goals in a single top-flight season for Paris Saint-Germain.
Zlatan: 'I will miss this team'
It was a fitting send-off for the 34-year-old, who has lit up Ligue 1 over the past four seasons, and who opened the scoring, with Brazilian pair Lucas and Marquinhos scoring almost reluctantly as the team looked to help their talismanic striker cap his Parisian stint in style.
"I know what I will do next year but I won't tell you," said Ibrahimovic after the match, ever the showman. "I am very excited tonight, I've had four fantastic years here. This is a fantastic group, it's even the best group I've played with. I will miss this team. We're proud of what we've done. The club will remain in my heart. I hope they will continue to win because the project is huge. I'm not worried."
Blanc: 'No player like him'
Paris saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc is under no illusions that filling the large boots of the striker - who has scored 154 goals in 179 appearances in all competitions for the capital club - will be no easy task.
"Whether you love him or not, with the statistics he has, with the quality he has, I can tell you that he belongs with the best - and I've seen lot of players," said the PSG boss. "There is no player like him, like Zlatan, in the current market, so we are going to have to invent him! He doesn't exist."
So too it will be hard for Blanc and his men to top their achievements this season after setting a new points record (96) and a new defensive record (19 goals conceded) while topping the 100-goal mark - on the way to what could turn out to be a second-straight domestic quadruple should they win in Saturday's Coupe de France final against Marseille.
The Great Escape
Meanwhile Toulouse FC - who spent the vast majority of the season in the bottom three - pulled off a miraculous escape as Yann Bodiger clinched a last-gasp 3-2 win in Angers. TFC boss Pascal Dupraz, brought in to replace Dominique Arribagé in February, turned the club's season around - with just two defeats since February - and is already looking forward to next season.
"The players are heroic. For the last two months I said to them that the exploit was possible. I feared that, once we'd done the 'remontada', we'd ease off in the last match. It was a great match," said the former Evian TG FC boss. "I'd like to keep everybody. Bravo to Wissam (Ben Yedder), who beat the club scoring record. Bravo to 'Bozo le Clown' (Martin Braithwaite). He missed a penalty and apologized to the squad at half-time. We took him in our arms. That was the foundation act of staying up. And bravo to Bodiger."
No cigar for Reims
The win for the TFC meant that Stade de Reims - despite their heroic 4-1 thrashing of an Olympique Lyonnais side who had perhaps taken the foot off the gas after clinching second place with a 6-1 hammering of rivals Monaco in Week 37 - remained in the bottom three as the music stopped, leaving them to ponder a Ligue 2 future alongside GFC Ajaccio, whose 1-0 loss to Lorient saw them punch their ticket for the second tier after a valiant first-ever season in the country's top flight.
Monaco, Nice, Lille punch tickets
The final European places were still up for grabs in Week 38, and Monaco, doubtless smarting from the loss to Lyon that ended their hopes of direct Champions League qualification, made sure of third place with a 2-0 win over Montpellier thanks to Ivan Calvaleiro (3') and Fabinho (32', pen.).
OGC Nice had a chance to take third in the even of a Monaco loss, and Claude Puel's men held up their end of the bargain with a 3-2 victory in Guingamp - thanks mainly to a double from Alassane Pléa (2', 62') - but it will be Europa League and not Champions League football next season for a Les Aiglons outfit whose main man Hatem Ben Arfa (17 goals, six assists) lit up the league on his return to his homeland after a lengthy stint in the EPL.
ASSE still a chance for Europe
LOSC confirmed their blistering 2016 form with a 1-0 win in Saint-Etienne - thanks to Portugal international Eder - to leapfrog Les Verts into fifth ands claim a qualifying place for next season's Europa League campaign. Saint-Etienne, who slipped from Champions League contention with twin defeats to round out the campaign, could still join Lille, however, should Paris Saint-Germain beat Olympique de Marseille in the Coupe de France final on Saturday, May 21.
OM would have been hoping for better cup preparation than their 1-1 draw with long-since relegated Troyes, but Franck Passi's much-changed side proved somewhat shaky, but Scot Steven Fletcher managed to level (61') after Fabien Camus' opener (10'), even though he did miss from the spot as his side ended the campaign in 13th.
SC Bastia clinched tenth place - equalling their 2013-14 finish, their best since 2001 - with a 2-1 win in Rennes, François Kamano completing a horror end-of-season run for the Brittany side, who end the season with five in a winless run of six league outings.
SM Caen ended the season on a high, with a 1-0 win over Bordeaux, to clinch their best Ligue 1 finish - seventh - since season 1991-92, but doubtless fans of the Normandy club will be wondering what could have been had the side maintained the form that saw them go into the winter break in fourth place. Meanwhile Les Girondins will be searching for a permanent replacement for sacked coach Willy Sagnol, with interim boss Ulrich Ramé a chance to stay on at the Matmut Atlantique.