Unlike during the previous two seasons when Paris Saint-Germain comfortably won the French Ligue 1 title by 12 and 9 points, there have been serious attempts by both Marseille and Lyon to dethrone the reigning champions during the current campaign, but those efforts now appear to have faltered as PSG claimed a weekend 6-0 home victory against Guingamp to virtually seal a third successive title. A 3-0 loss at Caen for Lyon has ensured that Laurent Blanc’s team require just a point from their remaining two games to claim the French crown but it has been a late season surge by the Parisian team which has finally extinguished the hopes of their challengers.
During the early stages of the current Ligue 1 campaign, Marseille claimed eight successive victories to establish themselves as the main threat to PSG but then five defeats in six away matches suggested that their title hopes were faltering, and then two consecutive home defeats by Caen and PSG in early spring eventually sealed their fate.
However, Lyon were not to be denied as they secured seven successive victories from December onwards before losing leading striker Alexandre Lacazette to a hamstring injury for several weeks. During his absence, Hubert Fournier’s team won only one game and then a 2-1 home defeat by Nice seriously dented their title ambitions as they were faced with the gathering momentum of PSG.
It had been expected that PSG would be affected by an increasingly congested fixture list as they sought to claim four trophies during a busy but successful campaign. Defeat by Barcelona in the Champions League ended those hopes but while Lyon and Marseille have been unable to sustain their challenge at the top of the table, PSG have demonstrated increasingly dominant form in recent weeks.
The Coupe de Ligue trophy was earned by PSG when beating Bastia at the Stade de France while they have also qualified for the Coupe de France final in which they will face Ligue 2 team Auxerre. A domestic treble now appears a formality especially after winning seven successive games to ensure that just a draw is required to clinch the league title from either their weekend visit to Montpellier or a home game with Reims.
Ownership by Qatar Sports Investments has undoubtedly helped PSG but with Lyon, Marseille and several other teams needing to finance ground improvements or build completely new stadiums to meet the demands for the Euro 2016 tournament in France, it has created a situation where PSG are able to direct more investment towards squad strengthening.
Fortunately, UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations have somewhat restricted the transfer activities of PSG, but they remain the richest club in France supplemented by Champions League revenues and already in possession of the most formidable squad.
Lyon and Marseille may have offered a challenge to their supremacy this season and may try again for the 2015-16 campaign, but there is a general suspicion that PSG just stepped into another gear when the need arose and that cannot be a good omen for the future competitiveness of Ligue 1 in France.