France conquered - now PSG set sights on taking over Europe

Carlo Ancelotti's side are Ligue 1 kings for the first time 19 years after beating Olympique Lyonnais on Sunday but bigger targets are ahead for les Parisiens
By Robin Bairner

For the first time in 19 years, Paris Saint-Germain are champions of France.

Sunday's 1-0 success against Olympique Lyonnais was enough to push Carlo Ancelotti’s men beyond the reach of second-played Olympique de Marseille and secure a title that has been a long time in returning to the capital.

It is the culminating rejuvenation of a club that was very much in the wilderness only five years ago, when Paul Le Guen’s outfit required a last day victory over Sochaux to make absolutely sure that they would not be relegated.

PSG are now a team who are not only kings of France once more but who have made significant strides in Europe and were only eliminated from the Champions League in unfortunate circumstances against Barcelona.

Initially, the climb to France’s peak was slow but steady, guided by Antoine Kombouare, who did a fine job of stabilising the club before QSI’s takeover in the summer of 2011 dramatically altered the playing field.


Acquired from AC Milan last summer, the Swede is a prolific title winner and claimed yet another league crown at Parc des Princes. Presently Ligue 1's top scorer with 27 goals for the campaign.
Not one of PSG's biggest names by any means but there is arguably no player more important to the side than the midfielder, whose energy in the centre of the park has been integral to the team's success.

Considered by many to be the best centre-back in the world, the Brazil international was another to arrive from Milan last summer. Showed his class particularly in the Champions League.
Suddenly awash with money, and able to attract players of the highest calibre, Paris had a team to match the city’s glamour. Kombouare was rather harshly dispensed with with his side leading the league as the new owners made way for Carlo Ancelotti and, even if the Italian was not an instant hit, he has grown into something of a cult hero for carrying the team to the next level.

This is a side well-stocked with outstanding talent. Thiago Silva remains arguably the world’s outstanding centre-back while Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a forward with the technical ability, if not attitude, to grace any side in the world. Beyond these standout names Blaise Matuidi has been a titan in the midfield, Ezequiel Lavezzi has excelled in the Champions League, Jeremy Menez has provided moments of inspiration and countless others have played a role.

PSG cannot simply be happy to be a big fish in Ligue 1’s small pond. They are now expected to progress and build a team genuinely seen as one of Europe’s very best.

Sustainability may not be a watchword in Paris at present but there is little doubt that QSI wish to turn the club into a worldwide brand, which not only requires a shrewd marketing strategy, such as the decision to sign David Beckham on a free transfer in January, but also consistent success on the field at a high level.

Reaching the Champions League quarter-finals was a commendable achievement but this is a club with the desire and ambition to consistently be one of Europe’s best sides.

It may be that the QSI reign suffers its first significant setback in the summer as Carlo Ancelotti remains poised to join Real Madrid. A popular figure in the stands and, perhaps more crucially, in the dressing room, a handful of players, such as young Italian midfielder Marco Verratti, could follow him out the door.

If the immediate future of the team looks somewhat opaque, long-term optimism must remain that PSG can achieve their owners’ aspirations.

Sporting director Leonardo may have promised a quiet summer transfer window but the Parisiens remain a side with enviable financial resources who have shown a willingness to back themselves in the market.

The foundations for a domestic dynasty have been laid and now they must be built upon for European success to follow in the coming years.

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