Paris Saint Germain Excel as Ligue 1 Heads to Winter Break
Can anyone keep Paris Saint Germain from winning a fourth consecutive Ligue 1 title in 2016? With competition in the French top-flight officially on hold until January 8th, it certainly doesn’t seem like it. In just 19 games, the Parisians have managed to put 19 points between themselves and their nearest competitors. With a record of 16 wins, three draws, and zero losses, they are not only the single undefeated football club on the table, but the only team to have fewer than three losses so far this season. PSG have also won seven more games than any other soccer squad in the division—a remarkable feat that almost makes their 2015 – 2016 Ligue 1 title seem like a foregone conclusion.
The Hunt for an Undefeated Season
Paris Saint Germain, of course, have been no strangers to success, as of late. Since the 2012 – 2013 season, they’ve managed three Ligue 1 titles, one Coupe de France, two Coupe de la Ligue trophies, and three wins in the Trophee des Champions. If there’s one thing that PSG haven’t accomplished in their newly-minted golden age, though (other than a Champions League title, which is also a possibility for 2016), it’s an undefeated Ligue 1 season.
Indeed, in 2012/13, Paris Saint Germain won their first title since 1994, but lost five games to get there. The two seasons since have seen PSG picking up three losses apiece out of their 38-game campaigns. Could they be on their way toward an undefeated season in 2015/16?
A near-perfect record seems possible for the Parisians right now. In their previous three seasons, PSG had lost at least one game by the end of December. This year, they head to winter break undefeated. They’ve also scored 20 more goals than any other football club in the league this season (led by the 15-goal performance of the great Zlatan Ibrahimovic) and have only conceded nine goals (thanks to goalkeeper Kevin Trapp and his ten clean sheets). Needless to say, PSG are superlative on every level this season, and it’s entirely feasible that they could go for an undefeated season in 2016.
The Rest of the Field
Is there a soccer club on the Ligue 1 table that could beat Paris Saint Germain in the New Year? Right now, it’s hard to say—if only because no other team is so well-balanced between offense and defense.
For instance, Angers are in a solid third place, with eight wins, seven draws, and four losses. They trail PSG by 20 points but were one of the few football clubs to hold the Parisians to a draw this fall. Angers are almost as impressive as Paris Saint Germain regarding defense, having only conceded 11 goals in their first 19 games. Goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle, meanwhile, has Trapp beat in clean sheets, with 11.
The issue is, Angers are weak offensively: they scored just 17 goals in the first half of the season—a bottom-five tally for the entire league. Their 0-0 draw with PSG on December 1st turned into a dead heat because of the solid defense and great goalkeeping on both sides, but the Parisians took more than 70% of the possession and came a lot closer to scoring. Angers proved, in other words, that drawing with Paris Saint Germain is one thing; beating them, on the other hand, is quite another.
Last season, Olympique Lyonnais were PSG’s closest challengers, finishing just eight points back in the final point tallies. Lyon has seemingly run out of luck this season, though, losing their final match of 2015 to Gazelec Ajaccio—a soccer club promoted up from Ligue 2 at the conclusion of the 2014/15 campaign. The loss dropped Lyon to ninth place on the Ligue 1 table. Worse, the team hasn’t won a Ligue 1 fixture since November 8th. If Lyon ever had a chance at contending for a title in 2016, they don’t anymore.
The best bet for challenging Paris Saint Germain in 2016 is likely AS Monaco. Last year’s third-place team, Monaco have moved into the runner-up position this season, notching eight wins, eight draws, and just three losses in their first 19 games. One of those losses, though, was a 0-3 defeat against PSG at the end of August.
Can any French football club threaten Paris Saint Germain’s undefeated streak? Or are the Parisians simply in a league of their own in the 2015/16 Ligue 1? Root for the defending champions today, with a new PSG jersey from Soccer Box!