Ousmane Dembele’s prolific PSG form means Champions League semifinalists are more than just Kylian Mbappe

Paris Saint-Germain moved another step closer to a record-extending 12th French title on Wednesday with a 4-1 win away at lowly FC Lorient before being denied their midweek celebrations by a 1-0 win for AS Monaco over Lille OSC hours later. That combination of results means that Luis Enrique’s men can and most likely will seal their successful Championnat crown defense this weekend at home to Le Havre AC but there was no trace of disappointment at being made to wait a few more days.

Both PSG and Lille OSC, as well as Olympique de Marseille, were in action on Wednesday because of the Professional Soccer League’s (LFP) decision to give teams in UEFA competitions extra rest in a bid to gain a competitive advantage. That has proved to be the case for Les Parisiens and OM who are now semifinalists, but not for LOSC who were on the receiving end of the full Emiliano Martinez experience last week at home to Aston Villa in the quarterfinals.

Also getting some rest in the past few days were Ousmane Dembele and Kylian Mbappe who were both unused substitutes as PSG thumped Olympique Lyonnais 4-1 last Sunday and both were restored to the starting XI here by tinker master Luis Enrique. The Spaniard’s changes worked perfectly at Stade du Moustoir, though, with each of the France international pair scoring twice with Mbappe even teeing up one of Dembele’s to pick up where they left off in Catalonia last week with the first of three consecutive 4-1 wins.

On the topic of back-to-back runs of three, that is the third straight game in which Dembele has scored with goals from his past three outings across Ligue 1 and both quarterfinal legs in the UEFA Champions League against Barcelona. The ex-Blaugrana man opened the scoring after just 19 minutes with a fine finish from the edge of the box and later put the French champions up 3-0 on the hour mark in Brittany.

“Clearly, it was a collective success,” said Dembele postgame. “We came here to win and to keep up our momentum. I think that we put in a good showing. We deserved all three points and we now need to see the job through to be champions as quickly as possible. It is good scoring goals and I am being asked to score more of them. I will try to keep that up because we have important games coming up. It is not a specific job, but I am projecting myself more towards goal and the balls are getting to me to score. It will be my first title with PSG which will be a great source of pride.”

The timing of Dembele’s revival of form in front of goal could not have been timed better from Luis Enrique’s point of view with the UCL semifinal doubleheader against Borussia Dortmund honing into view. Suddenly, the lethal 26-year-old is a much greater threat to the Germans than he was earlier in the season and the Bundesliga outfit will realize this given how important he is to Paris’ attacking play which saw him score in each leg vs. Barca before his double against Lorient.

One of Dembele’s goals was teed up by Mbappe who was captain on the day and scored twice including one brilliant flicked effort before he turned provider for one of his closest teammates in the French capital but also with Les Bleus. Their prolific collective showing once again underlined how Luis Enrique is managing his squad’s minutes superbly so far in this run-in with rotation creating largely impressive performances instead of below-par displays created by players saving themselves for the Champions League.

Dembele and Mbappe could not be accused of doing that here and did what they could to secure PSG’s latest Ligue 1 title on the day but it was ultimately out of their hands and they will try again this weekend back at Parc des Princes. Their performance will be worth far more to Luis Enrique, though, ahead of the return to continental action next week than the three additional Championnat points it garnered here with both expected to feature heavily across the first leg in Germany and the return in Paris.

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