OLYMPIQUE LYONNAIS VS PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
VENUE: STADE DE GERLAND
DATE: 12TH MAY 2013
KICK-OFF: 20:00 (GMT)
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There could not be a more fitting way than to win the title at the club that defined an entire decade in Olympique Lyonnais. For near 10 years, seven consecutive league titles and developing some of Europe’s top talent, Lyon were the envy of all in Ligue 1. No more so than those at the Parc des Princes who dreamt of enduring the success on the scale of their adversaries.
Tonight, a win will crown us champions, the first time in 19 years. If this era of dominance is set to begin then it is written in the stars to kick-start it at the club that transformed French football forever. They are the blueprint to follow, the club that put Ligue 1 back on the map in Europe. The consistency they showed – not only domestically – but in Europe too was unparalleled from a club in France for a considerable amount of time. You could even go as far to say that it was an injustice that the OL team in the mid-noughties did not win a Champions League, they were that good. Players like Michael Essien, Mahamadou Diarra, Florent Malouda, Eric Abidal, Nilmar all came to the fore and were influenced by the likes of Juninho and Sylvain Wiltord. There was a real nice mix of youthful athleticism and experience which helped maintain that period of dominance. It was an incredible seven years where they just absolutely blew the competition away.
It is a period that Paris Saint-Germain aspires to recreate. We have the resources that Lyon could only have dreamed of back then but it makes their achievements all the more spectacular. There was a progression with each passing season, no lapse, hitting the peaks and prospering. There are similarities to us. There will always be the argument from outsiders looking in that money being poured into the club is the reason why but that is not strictly true. Long before QSI turned up, this club was in the doldrums. The Parc des Princes was not a nice place to be at, the supporters stayed away and those heady days in the mid-nineties were a distant memory. But things changed under Antoine Kombouare. Old heads such as Claude Makelele and Ludovic Giuly were brought in. The club were shrewd in their transfer dealings by signing the right quality of player such as Mevlut Erding, Guillaume Hoarau, Stephane Sessegnon, Ceara, Christophe Jallet and Nene. There are certainly more I could mention and the dealings were relatively cheap as well. Credit has to go to the former regime Colony Capital in that respect. Kombouare guided us to a Coup de France triumph in 2010 and put us on the fringes of the Champions League the season after. The progression was there for all to see and in came QSI in 2011 to help build this brand new era for the club which can ‘officially’ start with a title win tonight.
Les Gones’ season is petering out despite coming into some form in the last three weeks. Prior to that, their title ambitions were destroyed with three successive defeats to Bastia, Sochaux and Stade de Reims. Last December were overcame them 1-0 at the Parc thanks to Blaise Matuidi but they were three points ahead of us going into that clash. The win gave us the tag of ‘winter champions heading into the New Year.
If we are to do it, we will be without Thiago Silva, Marco Verratti and Salvatore Sirigu who are all suspended. Lucas Moura is still out as he continues his recovery but David Beckham returns after his suspension.
Could tonight be the night? If so the Champs-Elysees will be a pretty picture in a sea of red and blue.