- Associated Press - Sunday, March 13, 2016

PARIS (AP) - Next stop Europe.

Paris Saint-Germain must now prove it can succeed in the Champions League after securing a fourth straight title so easily that it was sealed with a record eight games left and capped with a pulverizing 9-0 win against last-place Troyes on Sunday.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored four second-half goals against easily the league’s worst team. Forward Edinson Cavani netted twice, while midfielders Javier Pastore and Adrien Rabiot also scored in addition to an own goal.

PSG has lost just once this season - away to Lyon last month - and leads second-place Monaco by 25 points.

However, it will ultimately be judged by how well it does in Europe, rather than if it wins another domestic treble against mediocre opposition unable to mount any sort of challenge.

A better indication of true progress will be seen in the Champions League quarterfinals next month. PSG has failed to progress beyond the last eight in the past three seasons and has only once reached the semifinals, back in 1995.

“I hope we do better than last year,” PSG president Nasser Al-Khelaifi said. “We’re collectively stronger.”

Bankrolled by huge funds from Qatari investor QSI, PSG has dominated so much that it has lost only once in any domestic competition over the past calendar year.

“From the first game we said we would set a pace that others would find hard to keep up with and no teams could,” PSG coach Laurent Blanc said. “It’s amazing to win the title after 30 games.”

Blanc will keep a close eye on his players - mainly because he’ll be with them.

“We can celebrate for the next two days, and I think I will celebrate with them,” he said. “But then we have to get back to work.”

PSG’s astonishing goal difference of plus 62 - 77 goals scored, 15 conceded - more than four times better than the next-best Lyon, which missed a chance to move into third place on Sunday after squandering a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at Rennes.

Midfielder Rachid Ghezzal and striker Alexandre Lacazette put Lyon 2-0 up but midfielder Fallou Diagne and forward Jeremie Boga salvaged a point for Rennes, which is in fifth place, one point behind Lyon and two behind Nice.

The talismanic Ibrahimovic has scored 27 league goals and is on track to beat his career best tally of 30 - set three seasons ago with PSG. He is PSG’s all-time leading scorer with 141 goals, including 102 in the league.

But the 34-year-old Ibrahimovic is out of contract in June and hinted after the game that he sees his future away from the club - unless something quite extraordinary happens.

“What happens next year, I don’t know. But for the moment I’m not here,” Ibrahimovic told television channel beIN Sports, before jokingly adding.”I don’t believe they can change the Eiffel (Tower) for my statue. But if they can I will stay here, I promise you.”

Blanc had special praise for Ibrahimovic.

“He’s an exceptional competitor,” Blanc said. “The team needs leaders like that.”

PSG only been tested in Europe, losing 1-0 away to Real Madrid in the group stages for its only other defeat this season.

The club’s owners have been desperate to win since the Champions League taking charge in June 2011. But PSG will be more confident this time around after beating Chelsea 4-2 on aggregate in the last 16, and with more time to prepare.

PSG has reached the League Cup final and the French Cup semifinals, and the only serious blip on an otherwise perfect season came off the field.

Right back Serge Aurier drew the wrath of his club during a live session with fans on social media, insulting Blanc, Ibrahimovic and Angel Di Maria. It did a lot of damage to the club, which is trying hard to improve its image following years of football hooliganism and racism among sections of its fans.

Also Sunday, Nantes moved up to sixth place after beating Angers 2-0 with striker Emiliano Sala scoring twice.

On Saturday, Marseille drew 1-1 at Lorient and trails PSG by 38 points.

But bitter rival Marseille has one thing that PSG craves - a Champions League title - winning it in 1993.


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