Ligue 1 title awaits Paris Saint-Germain in visit to Troyes
AS Monaco's 2-2 draw at home to Stade de Reims on Friday means that Paris Saint-Germain now have the chance to be officially crowned Ligue 1 champions with a victory away at ESTAC Troyes on Sunday afternoon.
After just 30 rounds of matches in Le Championnat, Laurent Blanc's men could find themselves with an unconquerable 25-point lead over Les Monegasques with just eight games left to play -- also saving the principality outfit from being the ones to hand Les Parisiens the title next weekend.
By winning it in Troyes, PSG would become the earliest side to ever be crowned domestic champions in one of Europe's top five leagues. German behemoth Bayern Munich secured the 2014-15 Bundesliga title on Mar. 25 -- after 27 games -- but Ligue 1 has two more teams than its German counterpart.
Just four days after booking their place in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League with a 2-1 win away at Chelsea to complete a 4-2 aggregate triumph; the French capital outfit could be celebrating a fourth consecutive top flight crown.
Although it is unlikely that Troyes will be able to prevent PSG from confirming their latest Hexagoal trophy at Stade de l'Aube, Mohamed Bradja's men will be afforded a better chance than usual as Blanc has been deprived of a few of his regular starters in his latest squad.
Having played through the pain barrier to his detriment at Stamford Bridge in midweek; Blaise Matuidi has been left in Paris and allowed to recover.
The France international was reduced to the role of a brawler against Guus Hiddink's side by starting a match he clearly was not fit enough to play the majority of, so he will miss facing the club that handed him his professional debut.
In a bid to clear up his groin issue, Marco Verratti will probably not play again until the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals -- whomever that might be against -- so he also stays behind in the capital with Matuidi.
Completing the unavailable first choice midfield trio is Thiago Motta, who is suspended against Troyes after his booking in the 2-1 defeat away at Olympique Lyonnais late last month.
Apart from the two Italians and the Frenchman, Serge Aurier is also missing as he is still training with the reserves as part of a club-imposed sanction -- as is Hervin Ongenda.
Marquinhos filled in for the absent Ivory Coast international right-back at Chelsea on Wednesday, so Gregory van der Wiel should be trusted to start in Troyes with Ligue 1's most toothless attacking unit unlikely to pose PSG too many problems.
Captain Thiago Silva and David Luiz will probably continue their partnership at the heart of the defence, while Layvin Kurzawa should replace weary veteran Maxwell at left-back.
A midfield minus Verratti, Matuidi and Motta may well be comprised of Benjamin Stambouli, Adrien Rabiot and Javier Pastore, while Edinson Cavani and Jean-Kevin Augustin should join the in-form Zlatan Ibrahimovic in attack.
Troyes possess the worst defensive and attacking records in Le Championnat, but if they somehow avoid defeat against the team with the best back and front lines in the league, then PSG can secure the title at home to second-placed Monaco next Sunday instead.
Once this season's Ligue 1 crown has been clinched, Blanc and his players can switch their attention towards both domestic cups and Europe.
Tying up the league now means Le President will be able to rotate his squad in order to keep his key players fresh for the Champions League quarterfinals, the Coupe de la Ligue final and the Coupe de France semis. Consequently, a second consecutive domestic clean sweep is likely on the cards.
However, as Bayern's early 2014 Bundesliga triumph proved -- Pep Guardiola's men were beaten 5-0 on aggregate by rampant eventual winners Real Madrid -- winning your domestic title ahead of time is no guarantee of continental progress.
Jonathan Johnson is based in Paris and the voice of PSG TV. He also writes for French Football Weekly. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.