At the moment, Paris Saint Germain seem all but guaranteed to clinch their fourth consecutive Ligue 1 title. Before they settle the score in the domestic league, though, the Parisians will get their first shot at 2015/16 silverware in the final for the Coupe de la Ligue.
A Golden Opportunity for Lille
The championship match, scheduled for April 22nd, will pit PSG against Lille OSC. Lille, of course, are not contenders for the Ligue 1 title this year and have spent most of the season ranked in the lower reaches of the league standings stable. The Great Danes last won trophies in 2011 when they picked up both the Ligue 1 title and the Coupe de France.
However, for the majority of the recent PSG dynasty, Lille have been kept away from the winner’s circle. Last season, for instance, the soccer club bowed out of the Coupe de la Ligue in the semifinals, actually losing to PSG in the deciding match. In Ligue 1, meanwhile, the Great Danes finished a solid but unremarkable eighth place.
Despite the fact that Lille’s performances haven’t really improved in the domestic league, though, they have been largely impressive in the Coupe de la Ligue this season. In the quarterfinals, they beat Guingamp in a penalty shootout to advance to the next round, and in an exemplary semifinal performance, they crushed Bordeaux 5-1.
With momentum like that, this cup final could be Lille’s golden opportunity to win some silverware again after a five-year drought. And while Paris Saint Germain are certainly tough opponents, it would be somewhat fitting if the Great Danes ousted the Parisians to win this trophy. After all, when Lille won the Coupe de France in 2011, they did so by beating PSG 1-0 in the final.
Another Trophy for Paris Saint Germain
Then again, there has been very little evidence as of late that Paris Saint Germain are even the slightest bit vulnerable. Currently, the soccer club is enjoying a runaway lead in the Ligue 1. The Parisians are also the reigning holders of all four French football trophies and have to be considered frontrunners to win all four again. If they can somehow manage a Champions League title as well, PSG’s 2015/16 season could go down in history as the best ever for a French football club.
You could, perhaps, say that PSG’s low-scoring wins in the Coupe de la Ligue matches they’ve played so far are signs of weakness. The football club only beat Saint Etienne 1-0 in the quarters, and only topped Lyon 2-1 in the semis. Compared to Lille’s 5-1 win over Bordeaux, those scores don’t ring as particularly impressive.
Still, there are two facts that have to give the Parisians the edge in the final. First of all, PSG haven’t lost a game to Lille since April 2012 and managed a 6-1 victory against the Great Danes last spring. If Lille have what it takes to beat France’s top soccer heavyweight, they certainly haven’t shown hints of that potential recently.
Secondly, PSG “took it easy” in the earlier rounds of the Coupe de la Ligue last season too, before winning an utterly one-sided championship match to clinch the trophy. Indeed, the Parisians won just 2-0 over Nantes in the quarterfinals and beat Lille just 1-0 in the semis, but still showed up in a big way in the finals, beating Bastia 4-0. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani scored two goals apiece in that match, and with both men still in fine form, there’s no reason to expect that Paris Saint Germain will falter on April 22nd. Add the presence of Angel Di Maria, who has been a helpful presence on the pitch since coming to Paris last fall, and PSG are all but guaranteed a record sixth Coupe de la Ligue.
What do you think? Will PSG continue their reign of French football dominance, or will Lille OSC force a surprise? Stop by Soccer Box today and pick up a new PSG jersey 2015/16 or a Lille shirt to support your favorite squad in April’s League Cup final!