Ten up but everyone is down at Paris Saint-Germain

By Paul Myers - RFI
Football Transfers AP - Manu Fernandez
APR 23, 2022 LISTEN
AP - Manu Fernandez

It should have been a triumphal procession of wide-eyed paeans and pomp to Saturday's coronation party. But rather it's been a tight-faced, glum-lipped shuffle.

Barring the oddest of results, PSG should secure a point on Saturday night against Lens to become champions of France for the eighth time in 10 years.

Should Ligue 1's seventh-placed team claim all three points, head coach Mauricio Pochettino will have games against Strasbourg, Troyes, Montpellier and Metz to shake off the embarrassment and nick the final point.

Assuming Saturday night's alright, the latest Ligue 1 crown will furnish the club with a record-equalling 10th top flight championship.

PSG will surpass traditional rivals Marseille to join Saint-Etienne - ironically fighting for their Ligue 1 life.

Such strife has become alien to a PSG sustained by money from QSI which bought the club in 2011.

Before the acquisition, PSG had claimed two titles: 1986 and 1994. Not bad for an outfit formed in 1970 from Le Stade saint-germanois and Paris FC.


Fast forward half a century from that fusion and the club is the alpha beast roaming the firmament.

Under the aegis of QSI, there have also been six Coupe de France trophies, six wins in the final of the Coupe de la Ligue as well as eight French Super Cups.

But PSG executives remain unhappy for their trophy cabinet glitters without the Champions League – European club football's most prestigious bauble.

Under Thomas Tuchel, PSG reached the final in 2020 but were outwitted by Bayern Munich.

A semi-final was reached in 2021. Pep Guardiola's Manchester City side outplayed them in both legs before succumbing to a Tuchel-led Chelsea in the final.

And in 2022, a place in the last eight looked likely but with the second leg against Real Madrid in their grasp at 2-0 up on aggregate, a 17-minute collective meltdown allowed Karim Benzema - formerly of the parish of Lyon – to score a hat trick and turn the show around.


The famed troika of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappé had failed to bring the fans to the promised land.

Messi and Neymar were booed throughout the game against Bordeaux just after the Madrid debacle for their supposed lack of effort while Mbappé was spared the acrimony.

Neymar has been redeemed. His opener against Marseille at the Parc des Princes on 17 April was roundly cheered.

The 2-1 victory sent PSG 15 points clear of second-placed Marseille. The game, which is perennially billed as Le Classique, failed to live up to the hype.

A fitting metaphor for a PSG which has oozed dysfunction in its collection of players.


Goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who has been a solid performer, highlighted the difficulties of rotating with Gigi Donnarumma after the 3-0 win at Angers on Wednesday night.

Speaking to French broadcaster Canal +, Navas said: “I have a very good relationship with Gigi but I want to be playing every game. I'm happy in Paris but the situation has to change.”

Donnarumma has intimated he is unhappy with the constant switching. At 23, the Italian is the more likely of the two to stay. 

The hardline fans are miserable with the club's management and have boycotted games since the defeat to Madrid.

And Pochettino is disappointed. Brought in to replace Tuchel in December 2020, he collected the first silverware of his 13-year managerial career at PSG when his team saw off Marseille to win the 2021 French Super Cup.

The 2021 Coupe de France followed in May.

But, of course, the top brass are upset because it is the wrong kind of precious metal. And Pochettino might be replaced for only winning the French title.

Julian Nagelsmann, the Bayern Munich manager, might be able to empathise.

His side went out to Villareal in the quarter-finals of the Champions League to raise doubts over his future even though his side was well on course towards a 10th successive Bundesliga title.

Bayern will clinch the top flight crown for a record-extending 32nd time if they beat Borussia Dortmund on Saturday night at the Allianz Arena. It should lead to a fest of some kind.

Over in Paris? Merriment? Why?

Even after moving onto 10 titles, PSG might have to do without the services of Mbappé.

The 23-year-old France international has harvested all the domestic honours since signing for the club in 2017.

He lead this term's charts with 22 Ligue 1 goals in 30 games. He has also set up 14 goals, one more than his much maligned teammate Messi.

But Mbappé still has not declared whether he will take his prodigious skills to Real Madrid or even elsewhere when his contract with PSG expires in the summer.

His stance provides another dash on the surreal landscape where the obvious needs explanation.

"Winning the national championship is something that has value and importance," insisted Pochettino ahead of the game against Lens.

"You should not underestimate it," the Argentine added. "We hope that the fans will be able to celebrate with us the titles."

That he has to wonder speaks volumes about PSG.
Champions elect. Champions of defects.