Sat 27 May 2023 8:43 am - Jerusalem Time
French Championship: Saint-Germain for a record eleventh title
After Paris Saint-Germain clinched the French Football League title for a record eleventh time in theory last week, it stands in the penultimate 37th stage, a point away from officially clinching it when it comes to Strasbourg on Saturday.
The Parisian club is six points ahead of Lens II, who hosts Ajaccio (84 vs. 78), and a draw against Strasbourg will suffice for it to achieve its second title in a row and the eleventh in its history to end the partnership with Saint-Etienne.
Although it is heading towards a ninth title in the league in the last 11 seasons, its incompleteness after two stages before the end reflects the difficulties that the Qatari-owned team has suffered from in recent months.
This season I suffered six defeats in the league, which has not happened in the eight years during which it won the title since the Qatari takeover in 2011.
And while achieving the league title has become considered a foregone conclusion, if it is true, given the difference in financial capabilities with other clubs and the resonant names it has in its ranks, some evaluate the Saint-Germain season in sympathy with its continental results.
This season came again as a disappointment after being knocked out of the final price by Bayern Munich, similar to last season when it fell to Spanish Real Madrid, to continue the search for the first title in the Champions League in its history.
And while Argentine Lionel Messi appears on his way to leave the club's walls two seasons after his arrival, it seems that the bet on the Mbappe-Messi-Neymar trio to achieve continental glory may fail.
As the 2022 world champion is a candidate to play in the Saudi League, while some reports linked the Brazilian Neymar to moving to English Manchester United.
As for Kylian Mbappe, it seems that he is staying in the French capital, and the 2018 world champion is fighting an individual battle in the race for the top scorer in the league, as he leads with 28 goals, two goals ahead of Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette, two stages before the end.
The fate of coach Christophe Galtier also seems murky, in light of reports linking Zinedine Zidane or Spain's Luis Enrique to taking over duties at the "Parc des Princes" stadium.
It is true that Lens will not snatch the title from Saint-Germain, but the fans will remember the exceptional season for the northern club, which is preparing to return to the Champions League for the first time in 21 years.
Although Saint-Germain did not win the title two stages ago, this is also due to Lens, who broke the total number of his best points during one season, two games before the end.
In the event of his victory over Ajaccio, he will raise his score to 81 points, which is the highest total achieved by a team that finished runner-up to Saint-Germain since the Qatari takeover (80 points by Monaco in the 2013-2014 and 2017-2018 seasons).
Mathematically, Lens could still win their first league title since their only title in 1998, but their lag by six points behind Saint-Germain plus their vast goal difference (+50 vs. +34) makes this possibility unrealistic even if they win their last two games vs. The fall of the Parisian team.
He is ahead of the third Marseille by five points, so the victory over Ajaccio will guarantee him the runner-up and a direct return to the Champions League for the first time since the 2002-2003 season.
A return to the top continental competition would be an extraordinary achievement for a club that spent most of the past decade in the second division before rising to the ranks of the elite in 2020.
He also achieved this feat on a modest budget of 62 million euros ($66 million).
And in the event that Lens wins, Marseille will be satisfied with the third place that entitles it to enter the qualifying qualifiers for the Champions League, as it is 8 points away from fourth-placed Monaco.
At the bottom of the table, after the relegation of Angers, Ajaccio and Troyes, three teams are competing to avoid the seventeenth place (4 teams are relegated this season and only two are promoted from the second division to reduce the number of clubs next season from 20 to 18).
Nantes are seventeenth (33 points) over Lille, while Auxerre (34 points) travels to Toulouse, while Strasbourg (39) hosts Saint-Germain, although it is relatively comfortable with its position due to the vast goal difference from Nantes (-7 vs. -18).