Paris Saint-Germain’s grip on the Ligue 1 Uber Eats crown has been loosened by LOSC Lille and the reigning champions need to beat Stade de Reims on Sunday to be sure of taking the title fight down to the last weekend.
Paris Saint-Germain - Stade de Reims Sunday at 21:00 CET (1900 GMT)
After seven Ligue 1 titles in the last eight seasons, could PSG end this campaign without any major trophy? That is the worst-case scenario facing the capital club heading into the last week of this season with two games left for them to haul in Lille either side of the Coupe de France final against AS Monaco at the Stade de France.
Following their UEFA Champions League semi-final exit at the hands of Manchester City, PSG scraped past Montpellier Hérault SC on penalties in the last four of the Cup at the Stade de la Mosson in midweek, setting up that mouthwatering meeting with Monaco as they aim to lift that trophy for the sixth time in seven years.
However the league title is out of their hands. Lille are three points clear and so know four points from their last two outings will make them champions. It could even be over this Sunday if PSG fail to beat Reims and Lille better their result. Otherwise, Mauricio Pochettino’s side know a win against the men from Champagne country will at least keep the pressure on.
The Parisians also have in their favour a far superior goal difference and number of goals scored, but Kylian Mbappé was frank in his assessment of their campaign when he spoke in midweek.
Watch: PSG held at Rennes
“We still have two titles to go and win, the league is not lost yet,” Mbappé told Eurosport before suggesting that any success for Lille would be tempered by PSG’s own failings. “We will concentrate on our matches and try to win them all. We only have ourselves to blame. If we miss out on the league it will be us who will have lost it, not them who have won it.”
Mbappé later clarified his comments, posting on Instagram: “Lille would make great champions if they are crowned but with eight defeats we will be responsible if we lose the title.”
Costly home form
Five of those defeats have come at home, with PSG being beaten at the Parc des Princes by all of their title rivals - Lille, Monaco and Olympique Lyonnais - as well as Olympique de Marseille and FC Nantes. That means the title could chiefly be lost at home for Pochettino’s side, who as it happens lost to Reims at the Parc des Princes last season.
Nevertheless, the return of Mbappé in Montpellier was good news after a combination of injury and suspension had seen him miss the previous three matches. The World Cup winner scored twice to take his tally for the season to a remarkable 39 goals in all competitions.
Watch: Reims go down to Monaco
The downside is that Presnel Kimpembe will serve the second game of his three-match ban after being sent off in last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Stade Rennais FC, while Layvin Kurzawa has been in the treatment room since coming off in that game. Marco Verratti will not play again this season.
Reims on the beach?
Certainly anything other than a PSG victory would be a major surprise, as Reims could be forgiven for already having their thoughts on the beach. Beaten 1-0 at home by Monaco last weekend, they are winless in six outings and are limping across the line. Indeed they are still only five points above the bottom three with two games left, but from their 13th place there are enough teams beneath them for the pressure to be off in that regard.
“Playing Paris puts us in the spotlight. The players love going to the Parc des Princes,” said coach David Guion, who will be taking charge of the team for the second-last time before departing at the end of the season and making way for Spaniard Óscar García. “The objective we have set ourselves for a while now is to finish in 12th place. At one point I thought we could get into the top half but we have not been able to take the opportunities that have come our way.”
“We need a reaction, and that means a good result in Paris and a win in our last game against Bordeaux,” added Guion, who is without knee injury victim Valon Berisha for the trip to the capital.
Paris SG: Navas; Dagba, Marquinhos, Diallo, Bakker; Herrera, Paredes; Di Maria, Neymar, Mbappé; Icardi
Reims: Rajkovic; Foket, Faes, Abdelhamid, Konan; Cassama; Cafaro, Munetsi, Chavalerin, Doumbia; DIa