Paris Saint-Germain’s wait to confirm the 2013/14 Ligue 1 title has been a bit like enjoying a night of passion with tantric-loving Geordie warbler Sting; an overly long build-up followed by what we hope will be a happy ending.
Having been on the verge of ecstasy for two weeks, the climax could finally, er, come tonight in the city of love. Victory over Rennes at the Parc des Princes would guarantee a second successive title, while even a draw or defeat could be enough depending on how Monaco get on against Guingamp.
The visitors will undoubtedly be feeling a bit sorry for themselves after Saturday’s limp Coupe de France final defeat to afforementioned Guingamp, and it would take a brave man to predict anything other than a favourable result for PSG. That said, we managed to lose 2-1 to a nine-man Rennes side in one of last season’s most memorable balls-ups, so Laurent Blanc will know better than to take Phillipe Montanier’s side lightly.
“It would be good to finish the job at home because there are very few home matches left and we are playing in front of our fans,” said Blanc, who will have Zlatan Ibrahimovic back in the squad after he recovered from injury.
“They have been there for us throughout the season. We have always played in front of a full house and I’ve heard that the final two games will be sold out as well. All the ingredients are there.”
All the ingredients are there? Now I’m gutted I used up all my MasterChef analogies last week. With no new injuries, Blanc has a full squad to choose from, and could hand Jeremy Menez a start on the day Jezza celebrates his 27th birthday. Many happy returns JM7.
In other news, PSG are being hit with by UEFA for failing to comply with Financial Fair Play. Though yet to be officially confirmed, the four-pronged punishment will mean the club cannot increase the wage bill, so will have to sell before they can buy. If they do enter the transfer market, they’ll only be allowed to splurge on one player, with a maximum value of €60million. Alongside this, PSG’s Champions League squad next year will be limited to 21 players, and the club will pay UEFA a fine of €60million spread over the next three years.
Leaving aside the obvious counter-intuitiveness of fining a club that has more money than God, the punishment is more meaningful than I had expected from UEFA. With only one transfer available this summer, do PSG improve their defence with a right-back or a centre-back? Or do they add the extra attacker that is probably needed too. Choosing the wrong option could have serious implications next season depending on what sort of injuries we pick up. The reduced Champions League squad could also prove to be a hindrance in reaching the latter stages of the competition. It will be interesting to see if the sanctions are ramped up should the club still not be complying this time next year.
The most surprising facet of this week’s revelations has been the peculiar campaign by the English press to portray Manchester City, who are set to receive an identical punishment, as victims of an unjust system. Witness these sycophantic articles from Ollie Holt and Paul Hayward , with the latter adding on Twitter:
Man City tried to comply with FFP. PSG didn’t. But they’re being treated the same. Tells you a lot about Qatari influence in world football.
— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) May 7, 2014
I have no beef with City, but I didn’t realise they were trying their best to comply with FFP when they splurged another £100million in the transfer market last summer, or when they signed the sponsorship agreement with Etihad which is as obviously wrong as PSG’s deal with the Qatari Tourist Association. Perhaps PSG should have a word with the Citizens’ PR consultants.