Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain continue their stroll to the finish line with a trip to Montpellier HSC on Saturday in the penultimate gameweek of the season.
The visitors were pegged back to draw 2-2 with Troyes last time out, while La Paillade went down 2-1 away from home to Clermont.
The travelling Montpellier support witnessed Joris Chotard score what may prove to be the best goal he will ever score in his career, but the 20-year-old’s delightful flick up and volley was in vain at the Stade Gabriel-Montpied as Montpellier’s dismal winless run continued.
Before Chotard’s wonder strike, Elbasan Rashani had the simple job of tapping home to put Clermont in the ascendancy with only four minutes gone – although he was forced off with an injury not long after – so the goalscoring responsibility soon fell onto the shoulders of Mohamed Bayo, who converted the winning penalty 69 minutes on the clock.
Now winless in seven Ligue 1 games – losing five of them – Olivier Dall’Oglio’s side are ending the season with a whimper and have slumped to 13th in the table, and they will be consigned to a bottom-half finish no matter what transpires over the next fortnight.
While Montpellier have at least managed to net five goals in their last three games – shades of Dall’Oglio’s attacking mentality – their seven-game winless run has seen them concede a dismal 15 goals, and the Stade de la Mosson is not the fortress it once was.
Indeed, La Paillade have also gone six games without victory in front of their own fans since beating Monaco back in January – drawing three of their last four on home soil – and the home crowd should not expect fireworks from their side with only pride on the line against the champions.
With the trophy in the cabinet, the foot has come off the gas pedal for PSG and Mauricio Pochettino, who is doing his prospects of another season in the hotseat no favours after witnessing his side blow a 2-0 lead to share the spoils with Troyes at the Parc des Princes.
Marquinhos’s tap-in and Neymar’s confidently-taken penalty put Les Parisiens in control before the half-hour mark, but a defensive lapse from Nuno Mendes allowed Ike Ugbo to strike for the visitors before Florian Tardieu channelled his inner Karim Benzema with a panenka penalty just after the break.
Images of Presnel Kimpembe needlessly hauling Renaud Ripart down to the ground are probably still fresh in the minds of the disgruntled PSG fanbase, whose side have now drawn three in a row in Ligue 1 and are at risk of seeing their double-figure lead at the top of the rankings evaporate.
PSG’s point against Troyes at least allowed them to break the 80-point barrier as they prepare to round off the season against Montpellier and Metz, but a record of three wins from 10 away from home is hardly the form of champions, and they have only kept one clean sheet in their last 12 Ligue 1 matches on rival turf.
On a brighter note for the visitors, a 2-0 success over Montpellier at the Parc des Princes back in September represented a fifth win on the bounce in this fixture, and not since 2017 have they failed to score at least twice against La Paillade in top-flight action.
Montpellier HSC Ligue 1 form:
Paris Saint-Germain Ligue 1 form:
We say: Montpellier HSC 0-3 Paris Saint-Germain
Letting a two-goal lead slip against a newly-promoted side in Troyes was another bitter blow for PSG, but facing an out-of-sorts Montpellier side is just what is needed to end their inconsistent patch on the road.
While PSG’s defence in particular does not travel well, a Montpellier side without Savanier pulling the strings or Wahi finishing the job should not pose too many threats to the champions here.