Having won the French Ligue 1 title for the past three seasons and become the first team to complete the domestic treble during the previous campaign, Paris Saint-Germain were paired against 2011 doubles winners Lille for the start of the 2015-16 term. Yet the outcome of the game on Friday evening suggests that PSG are likely to dominate the game in France for this season and beyond while Lille may be content just to hope for a European qualification place by May.
When Lille boasted the likes of Eden Hazard, Mathieu Debuchy and Yohan Cabaye within their ranks to seal the French Ligue 1 title by eight points from Marseille in 2011, PSG could only finish fourth, eight points further adrift. Yet those were the days before Qatar finance really arrived in Paris and before the departure of the Lille football stars responsible for their season of glory.
Nowadays, PSG are able to spend an estimated 90 million euros on new signings during the summer including 63 million euros on Angel Di Maria whereas Lille have revamped their squad under the leadership of new head coach Herve Renard with Baptiste Guillaume perhaps their most expensive purchase at 4 million euros. The acquisition of a lengthy list of new recruits has been offset by the 14 million euros sale of Adama Traore to Monaco with Nolan Roux moving to Saint Etienne for 2 million euros.
However, as both Lille and PSG teams gathered for their encounter on the opening evening of the season, there was news that PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic would miss the game with a knee injury, offering some hope for the Lille home spectators. The dismissal of Paris midfield player Adrien Rabiot for two bookable offences after 28 minutes of action was an additional bonus for which the hosts failed to take advantage.
The game was eventually decided by a second half goal netted by PSG forward Lucas Moura following a decisive passing movement in midfield. Lille were subsequently unable to respond as the away team sought to protect their lead. 10 men PSG minus their charismatic striker were just that much better as a team than Lille and may also be difficult to oppose as they search for a fourth successive league title.
Elsewhere in Ligue 1, last season’s runner’s-up Lyon were unable to penetrate a stubborn Lorient defence as the game ended in a 0-0 stalemate with leading striker Alexandre Lacazette leaving the field with a back injury while PSG‘s likeliest challengers Monaco recovered from a one goal deficit at Nice to win 2-1, but only after the hosts were reduced to 10 players just before the interval.
The more dramatic of the news stories was reserved for events at Marseille where the home team lost 1-0 to Caen and where head coach Marcelo Bielsa announced his resignation to a shocked audience. There is much speculation as to the reasoning for his sudden departure but another potential challenger to the dominance of PSG this season is facing off and on-field problems after just one game, not that the Paris based team will be concerned by the plight of their long-term rivals.