Irony played a part this week as Paris Saint-Germain booked a ticket into the last-four of the Coupe de la Ligue and lo and behold, we were drawn against Nantes who are tomorrow night’s opponents at the Parc des Princes.
The win on Tuesday night against Bordeaux keeps that dream alive of possibly securing a domestic treble. As the club motto states ‘Dream Bigger’ that can be applied to the quadruple if you consider the Champions League which does not seem all too impossible at this moment in time. Nevertheless, although it is difficult for the club not to get ahead of steam, the bread and butter is retaining the Ligue 1 title. But being a win away from a trip to the Stade de France which could result in our first potential piece of silverware this season, it would be a massive anti-climax if more than one title is not captured.
We are in a fantastic position. But, come tomorrow night, the gap at the top of the league could be cut to just two points by kick-off time if Monaco are to win in Toulouse. Although our home form has been imperious, we are coming against a very good Nantes side that has done incredibly well since asserting themselves back in the top-flight after a four year hiatus. Our last meeting at the Parc in 2009 – one of our better seasons in recent years – ended in a 1-0 win thanks to a penalty by Mateja Kezman. Zoumana Camara is the only survivor from that set-up which included the likes of Claude Makelele, Stephane Sessegnon and Sylvain Armand.
The meeting last Augusts at the Stade de la Beaujoire was a tight affair. It would end up being our first win of the season but we shot ourselves in the foot after a terrific first-half which we bossed. An Alex own goal after the interval got Les Canaris back on terms and had it not been for some stellar goalkeeping by Salvatore Sirigu, we could have found ourselves behind. Thankfully Ezequiel Lavezzi was on hand to put away after three bites of the cherry where either Edinson Cavani or Lucas Moura could have scored. It was a huge result! Had we gone three games without a win in the league then the pressure would only have been greater the following week. Instead, it galvanised us.
Nantes being back in the top division is fantastic. One of France’s most prestigious football clubs is not only back but also challenging for European qualification. You have to applaud the job done by Michel Der Zakarian who is performing a miracle. Serbian Filip Dordevic is a huge reason for Nantes’ renaissance, netting eight goals in the league. His 20 goals last season is what got his team up and he is aiding them again with crucial goals, just as he did with his brace in the 4-3 quarter-final win over Nice on Wednesday night. That was the victory that has booked a date with us for a place in the Coupe de la Ligue Final.
We will be seeing plenty of Les Canaris over the coming weeks.