PSG's loss to Nice gave Monaco the separation and margin for error it needs in the Ligue 1 title race.
Paris Saint-Germain has only lost two games in 2017. The first was in the Champions League to Barcelona, when it was dramatically beaten 6-1 last month in a second-leg collapse for the ages. The second came Sunday at third-placed Nice, a 3-1 defeat that as good as hands the French title to Monaco, who is three points clear at the top with a game in hand. It was a perfect boost to the leader in the week of its Champions League semifinal first leg against Juventus.
The pre-match talk was of Edinson Cavani, who signed a new contract last week (through 2020) and is chasing down Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s total of 50 goals in all competitions last season (he has 45 so far). But the Uruguayan did little to impact this game, short of an off-the-ball clash with Nice skipper Paul Baysse. Instead, it was another striker, Mario Balotelli, who lit up Nice's Allianz Riviera with a scorching opening goal.
Ricardo Pereira doubled the lead with a sublime curler and though Marquinhos pulled one back, Anastasios Donis sealed the win on either side of two PSG red cards, as Thiago Motta and Angel di Maria were dismissed. When PSG loses, it loses badly.
After straight title wins for PSG, and a huge transfer outlay on the likes of Jese, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Hatem Ben Arfa and Goncalo Guedes (some of whom may yet come good), this season has been one to forget. It has taken only one point from Monaco and Nice in its four matches, and could yet end up in third place, given Nice’s recent form. It’s hard to see coach Unai Emery surviving the summer, but he will not be the only one to leave. Sporting director Olivier Letang resigned earlier this month, while director of football Patrick Kluivert, who was set to become Ajax Under-19s coach before taking the job in Paris, is reported to be considering his future.
So while Leonardo Jardim is on the verge of leading Monaco to its first league title since 2000, and Lucien Favre, in his first season in charge, gets Nice into the Champions League on a budget less than PSG’s substitutes’ bench, PSG is still looking for that breakthrough on the European stage and appears to still be trying to find the right coach to deliver it.