Favourites PSG end long title wait
© AFP

Paris Saint-Germain ended a 19-year wait for the French title when they were crowned Ligue 1 champions this term, clinching their third championship after previously topping the table in 1985/86 and 1993/94. A joyous deliverance for PSG's long-suffering supporters, the triumph was also greatly appreciated by the club's Qatari owners, who have spent around €250m in transfer fees since taking over two years ago.

That huge investment also meant that few were surprised to see the capital outfit dominate the title race. Already brimming with talent, PSG profited from the arrivals of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and David Beckham this term, leaving them without equals in France's top division. And so it proved as Carlo Ancelotti's side swept their rivals aside to finish on 83 points, one shy of the record tally posted by Lyon in 2005/06. For good measure, they also boasted the meanest defence, conceding just 23 goals, and the most prolific attack, scoring 69.

Runners-up a full 12 points back, Marseille had to content themselves with a place in next season's UEFA Champions League group stage. The Mediterranean side were expected to struggle for a European berth after their conservative transfer activity in the summer, but Elie Baup's appointment as coach – added to Andre Pierre-Gignac's upturn in form, the vision of Mathieu Valbuena and the consistency of Nicolas N'Koulou – helped them prosper.

As for Lyon, they can look forward to Europe's premier club competition after a year away, Remi Garde's charges booking a Champions League play-off spot on the last day of the season. Nice and Saint-Etienne will also compete on the continent after finishing fourth and fifth respectively, the two clubs earning access to the UEFA Europa League following superb seasons. Both owed much to prolific forwards, with Argentinian ace Dario Cvitanich on song for Nice and Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang excellent for Les Verts.

At the bottom of the table, Brest, Troyes and Nancy all lost their elite status. They will be replaced by a trio of teams making much-anticipated returns to Ligue 1 in the shape of Monaco, Nantes and Guingamp.

Star performers
Blaise Matuidi (PSG)

Along with Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, Matuidi formed part of the French champions' gifted spine. A tireless worker in his holding role, the midfielder rose to a whole new level this term, with his positioning, strength and reading of the game making him central to Ancelotti's plans. "It's just a question of time before he becomes the best player in his position," said the Italian of the French international, capped 12 times. "I like his character and I know he'll never change. He's very humble. When you've been his coach, you want to remain as such for a long time."

Mathieu Valbuena (Marseille)
The 2012/13 campaign was something of a breakthrough season for Valbuena. Having made himself undroppable for both club and country, Le Petit Vélo (Small Bicycle) finally looks to be realising his potential. His record of 12 assists was the highest total of any player in Ligue 1 and made a major difference to Marseille's impressive second-placed finish. "I was consistent and effective from the start of the season to the end," he said. "Playing for France also gave me a lot of confidence and strength. I felt even more at ease this season; I felt like my game improved, and it was one of my best seasons ever."

Clement Grenier (Lyon)
A versatile midfielder, Grenier was the key performer for Lyon as their campaign drew to a close. Able to regain possession, spread the ball around and also find the net himself, he practically dragged his hometown club over the line as they secured Champions League football, with his magnificent free-kicks against Nice and Rennes in Lyon's last two fixtures proving decisive. They certainly did not go unnoticed by club President Jean-Michel Aulas, who was reminded of a former OL great. "I'm going to organise a game against New York Red Bulls in July," he said. "I hope then to be able to introduce Juninho [Pernambucano] to his little brother, Clement Grenier."

The stat
30
Zlatan Ibrahimovic topped the scoring charts with an incredible 30 goals, but he is not the first player to have reached that benchmark. No fewer than 20 other players have struck 30 goals or more in a season, including Just Fontaine in 1957/58 and Josip Skoblar, who racked up 44 in 1970/71. It has nonetheless been 23 years since anyone managed the feat, Jean-Pierre Papin hitting 30 in 1992/93.

Key moments
29 October 2012.
Along with Rennes, Lorient were the only other club not to record a single goalless draw – and there was nothing coincidental about that fact. Beaten 6-1 at Valenciennes the previous week, the Brittany outfit hoped to make it up to their supporters at home against promoted Ajaccio on 29 October, only for the nightmare to continue. Les Merlus were made to pay for errors at the back as they fell 4-1 behind at the break, but they rallied in the second half and snatched a late 4-4 draw in what proved the highest scoring game of the season.

17 November 2013. It seems to have become a yearly occurrence at PSG that November heralds a drop in form – and so it proved again in 2012/13. The lowest point came when Rennes visited the Parc des Princes midway through the month, with the hosts determined to arrest their slide after three games without a win. Despite being reduced to nine men, however, Frederic Antonetti's visitors secured a 2-1 success that left a frustrated Ancelotti uttering the word "crisis". The crisis would not last for long.

27 April 2013. There was plenty more than regional pride at stake when Lyon and St-Etienne met to contest the 106th Rhone derby in April. Not since 1973/74 had the two clubs been positioned so high in the standings as they prepared to lock horns, and the fourth-placed Verts travelled to face their neighbours eager to snatch third place from them. Despite the pressure, the home side held firm to record a 1-1 draw that kept them on track for the Champions League, while St-Etienne were able to console themselves with the French League Cup.