Paris Saint-Germain looks gray. Eleven days after their elimination from the Champions League by Bayern Munich, the capital club lost (0-2) at home, Sunday March 19, against Stade Rennais, during the 28e day of Ligue 1. Under the eyes of a public disillusioned by an end to the season where PSG only have the championship to win and too many points ahead at the top of the classification for there to be any urgency, the Parisian players disappointed.
“The only motivation we must have is to be French champions for the eleventh time”, announced Friday Christophe Galtier, in a pre-match press conference. Two days later, the speech of the Parisian coach clearly did not infuse well into the heads of his players, some of whom still fail to display their true level of play.
Kylian Mbappé, so decisive since the start of the season, spent an afternoon without. The captain of PSG was beaten this Sunday by his ex-teammate in the France team, Steve Mandanda. The Rennes goalkeeper had a great game by repelling the attempts of the prodigy Bondy (26e40e) and Marco Verratti’s shot late in the game (84e). Between these Parisian occasions, the Bretons managed to take advantage of the largesse of the Parisian defense.
The latter was unprecedented, due to the numerous injuries (Marquinhos, Sergio Ramos, Presnel Kimpembe, Achraf Hakimi, Nordi Mukiele) in this sector. Christophe Galtier had to tinker, and it showed. Karl Toko Ekambi thus took advantage of an approximate alignment of the Parisian defense to open the scoring just before the break (45e). Back from the locker room, it was Arnaud Kalimuendo, a former Parisian, who doubled the lead for Rennes (48e).
Good operation from Strasbourg at the bottom of the table
With this success far from certain as Rennes had difficulties in recent weeks, the club trained by Bruno Génésio retains its 5e place in the standings, ahead of LOSC, winner in Toulouse on Saturday (2-0). Paris, for its part, will have to relaunch to spend a more serene end of the season and remain champion of France, « l’obsession » by Christophe Galtier. Ten days from the end and despite this defeat, the Parisians are still favorites for the title, because the club of the capital is still leader, with nine points ahead of RC Lens, its new runner-up.
In the other meetings of this 28e day, RC Lens and AS Monaco put pressure on Olympique de Marseille, before their match against Reims on Sunday evening. Dauphin of PSG at the start of this weekend, the Marseille club is now 3e, behind Lens. The Sang et Or won Saturday night at home against Angers (3-0), thanks to two goals from Loïs Openda, who had already scored a hat-trick in the 27e daytime.
“What do I have in mind? Bring the club back to the European Cup. We don’t hide it. We have always been ambitious”, assured Franck Haise, the Lensois coach, after the meeting. After a difficult start to the year 2023 in the league, the Northerners have a fifth game without defeat. AS Monaco, for its part, found its way back to victory in Ajaccio (2-0), after three games without winning. The Monegasque club remains three points behind Lens.
At the bottom of the standings, Strasbourg gave itself a little air with a success against Auxerre (2-0), direct competitor in the fight for maintenance. “It was a pivotal first match. (…). We have to continue on this path.”, assured Frédéric Antonetti, the Strasbourg coach, after the match. AJA is still the first of the four relegated (17ᵉ), alongside Troyes (18ᵉ), Ajaccio (19ᵉ) and Angers (20ᵉ).