PSG galaxy of stars expected to dominate again

Published August 5, 2022 Updated August 5, 2022 06:36am
PARIS: Paris St Germain’s Sergio Ramos (second L) attends a training session at the Ooredoo Training Centre on Thursday.—Reuters
PARIS: Paris St Germain’s Sergio Ramos (second L) attends a training session at the Ooredoo Training Centre on Thursday.—Reuters

PARIS: A leaner and fitter Lionel Messi, similarly rejuvenated Neymar Jr and Kylian Mbappe staying after signing a new contract makes Paris St Germain runaway favourites to retain their Ligue 1 title when the French league season kicks off on Friday.

Last season, the Parisians romped to the title with a 15-point advantage over second-placed Marseille despite Messi failing to impress, Neymar and Mbappe bei­ng unsettled and Sergio Ramos missing most of the campaign.

But their galaxy of stars look to have turned a corner and have shown a new lustre, evident on a pre-season tour to Japan and in last Sundays emphatic 4-0 Super Cup win over Nantes.

It suggests the chasm between PSG and the rest of Ligue 1 could be even bigger this season, despite a change of coach with Mauricio Pochettino replaced by Christophe Galtier.

“Once you are at PSG, you have an obligation to achieve results,” Galtier said on his arrival at the club last month.

“I’m very ambitious. I came to Paris to win. There are three domestic trophies: we have to win them. You have to break records.” Galtier was the last coach to break PSGs hegemony when he took Lille to the title two seasons ago and will have to balance domestic dominance with their Champions League ambitions.

PSG begin their campaign at Clermont on Saturday with the first game of the Ligue 1 season on Friday when Olympique Lyonnais host promoted Ajaccio.

Lyon’s eighth place last season was their worst since 1996 but Dutch coach Peter Bosz has streng­thened his squad with the likes of Alexandre Lacazette, back from Arsenal, Bayern Mun­ich’s Core­ntin Tolisso and Nicolas Tagliafico of Ajax.

The club also have a new American owner, John Textor, who has promised supporters: We want to win titles here. We are going to show up and we are going to spend.

It significantly improves their chances of being able to challenge with the likes of Marseille, Monaco and Stade Rennes.

Marseille fired volatile coach Jorge Sampaoli and replaced him with former Croatia international Igor Tudor despite their second place finish last season.

Monaco, who were held at home on Tuesday by PSV Eindhoven in the first leg of their Champions League third qualifying round tie, have boosted their attack with two new signings.

Switzerland’s Breel Embolo has arrived from Borussia Moenche­ngladbach and Japan’s Takumi Minamino from Liverpool to assist Wissam Ben Yedder who scored 25 goals last season.

Rennes were fourth last season and are expected to repeat that attacking approach in this campaign.

Published in Dawn, August 5th, 2022

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