PSG lose at rivals Lyon to end dismal week

The week went from bad to worse for PSG on Sunday night when the league leaders went down 1-0 at rivals Lyon. The defeat, only their second of the season, came five days after PSG were knocked out of the Champions League by Chelsea.

PSG lose at rivals Lyon to end dismal week
PSG coach Laurent Blanc shows his frustration during his side's 1-0 defeat at Lyon. Photo: Philippe Desmazes/AFP

Paris Saint Germain ended a wretched week which saw them turfed out of the Champions League by Chelsea with a rare Ligue 1 loss, Laurent Blanc's side falling 1-0 at Lyon's Stade de Gerland on Sunday.

PSG, sorely missing injured star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, were undone by Jordan Ferri's first half goal.

The French captial side's mood was not improved by having the ball in the back of the net twice only for both to be ruled offside.

This loss, only their second of the season, left the expensively-assembled Qatari-backed team on 79 points, ten clear of Monaco at the top of Ligue 1 with five games of the season remaining.

While it is inconceivable they will fail to successfully defend their title this loss coming on the back of their Champions League failure may well raise questions over Blanc's future.

He is planning to decide on whether to extend his contract after next Saturday's French League Cup final at Stade de France….against Lyon.

"We thought we had got over the disappointment of our Champions League elimination, but in view of tonight's result this is not the case," said Blanc.

"We need to put this behind us."

As for Lyon this win, which cemented their grip on fifth place, came as a welcome fillip after being knocked out of the Europa League by Juventus in midweek.

PSG had the ball in the back of the net in the sixth minute but defender Lucas Digne was adjudged to be offside.

Shortly after a shot from Lyon striker Bafetembi Gomis hit the post.

Coach Remi Garde's men were unsettling PSG after the Parisiens' bright start and took the lead in the 31st minute.

Ferri nabbed the ball off PSG's Argentine attacker Ezequiel Lavezzi, the France Under-21 midfielder then looking up briefly before chipping right-footed over the head of advancing PSG keeper Salvatore Sirigu.

The ball thudded into the bottom right corner of the visitors' net to put a broad smile on the face of the home side's fans.

PSG went on the attack, trying to level before the break and could have pulled it off with a move involving Javier Pastore, Digne and Edinson Cavani but the Uruguayan's effort once he found space failed to trouble Lyon keeper Anthony Lopes.

On 63 minutes PSG had the ball in the back of the Lyon net for the second time but as in the first half Lavezzi's effort was disallowed with both him and Cavani ruled offside.

On 70 minutes Sirigu's quick reflexes denied Ferri doubling up with a shot from the right of the area.

Blanc shuffled his pack with ten minutes to go in a bid to unlock Lyon's defence which despite some close calls held firm.

Weekend results from Ligue 1:

Nantes 1 (Gakpe 4) Guingamp 0

Reims 2 (Charbonnier 24, Signorino 50) Saint-Etienne 2 (Brandao 51, Clerc 90+1)

Lyon 1 (Ferri 31) Paris Saint-Germain 0

Lille 1 (Origi 70) Valenciennes 0
AC Ajaccio 1 (Mostefa 86) Bordeaux 1 (Jussie 62)
Evian TG 2 (Benezet 35, Wass 48) SC Bastia 1 (Raspentino 30)
Nice 1 (Kolodziejczak 30) Lorient 2 (Sunu 19, Aboubakar 90+2)
Rennes 0 Monaco 1 (Riviere 55)
Sochaux 2 (Ayew 15, Contout 49) Toulouse 0
Played Friday
Montpellier 2 (Cabella 48, Sanson 79) Marseille 3 (Valbuena 42, Gignac 58,Payet 89)

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OPINION: Mbappé’s title, but PSG need to breathe new life into Qatari project

After being the star of France's 2018 World Cup triumph, Kylian Mbappé has been the standout player for Paris Saint-Germain in a Ligue 1 title-winning campaign that has been slightly marred by the manner in which they limped over the line.

OPINION: Mbappé's title, but PSG need to breathe new life into Qatari project
Photos AFP

PSG finally wrapped up the title on Sunday after second-placed Lille failed to beat Toulouse, having not won any of their previous three games when the opportunity to confirm a sixth French crown in seven seasons was there.

The Qatari-owned club can still make it a domestic double, with the French Cup final to come against Rennes next weekend, yet this will not be remembered as a vintage year.

While Neymar once again went missing due to injury at the crucial point, Edinson Cavani has struggled with fitness too, and coach Thomas Tuchel has regularly lashed out at the lack of depth in his squad.

The 5-1 capitulation at Lille a week ago was the worst league result for PSG since Qatar Sports Investments bought the club in 2011, and the first time they had let in five in a league game since 2000.

A record-breaking 14-match winning run with which they started the season now seems like a long time ago, the latest Champions League failure clouding Tuchel's first campaign in charge.

Mbappé, at least, has been a constant, revelling in his status as a World Cup winner and hardly ever being rested. He only turned 20 in December, but has now won three Ligue 1 titles in a row.

Mbappé has 36 goals in 40 games this season, with 30 in the league. And, frighteningly, his team-mate Daniel Alves told RMC recently that “he doesn't realise how good he is, he can go much further”.

He is also not used to losing, and may have upset some of his teammates with his assessment of last week's defeat at Lille. “We played like beginners,” he said.

Hollow ring

To be fair, they have usually been exceptional domestically. However, the problem is that as long as they keep failing in the Champions League, domestic success for a club backed by a Gulf state will continue to ring hollow.

The title has effectively been in the bag for some time, but their season has been winding down ever since their exit against Manchester United in the last 16.

That, combined with being knocked out in the League Cup quarter-finals, means Tuchel in his first season has actually done worse than Unai Emery, his unloved predecessor.

Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel has actually done worse than his predecessor, Unai Emery
However, according to sports daily L'Equipe, Tuchel has agreed to extend his contract to 2021. Thoughts have already turned to the future, with new signings needed at the Parc des Princes.

The costly Neymar experiment cannot be said to have succeeded until he stays fit for the games that matter, and there will always be speculation about his future.

“We have a contract, we're not even halfway through that contract,” Neymar's father pointed out to RMC Sport.

Time for a clear-out? 

Mbappé is the one man they really cannot afford to lose, but is it time for a clear-out elsewhere?

Some of the excitement of the early part of the decade has gone, replaced with a staleness. The days of Thiago Silva, Edinson Cavani and Marco Verratti are maybe ending.

Youri Djorkaeff, a World Cup winner for France and a PSG star in the 1990s, offers a frank assessment, suggesting real change is needed higher up.

“If you're not great in every compartment, from the bus driver to the girls who clean the shirts, you will go nowhere,” he told Ligue 1 Podcast, 'Le Beau Jeu'.

“Paris Saint-Germain, after many years without success, have to rebuild everything, restart from scratch, because the foundations are not good. You cannot expect to one day win the Champions League without these foundations.”

The Qatar project needs a breath of fresh air, and all eyes will be on president Nasser al-Khelaifi and sporting director Antero Henrique.

UEFA's Financial Fair Play rules remain a problem, though, with PSG said to have a hole of around 100 million euros and the need to present a balanced budget by the end of June. The next few months will be interesting.

By Andy Scott/AFP