Tomorrow’s Clash With Lyon Is Far From A Dress Rehearsal For The Cup Final

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The performance, the result and the elimination were of course disappointing in the week but as I said, Paris Saint-Germain can take a lot of pride from that Champion League campaign. Mistakes were made in the second-leg. Perhaps being in a position that we were lucky to be in by having a 3-1 aggregate lead, potentially scared us. We opted to stick rather than twist where an away goal would have made all the difference and it could have been ourselves planning a semi-final against Atletico Madrid.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but the analogy I like to use with this club is that ‘Rome was not built in a day’ and the same applies here. Two consecutive Champions League quarter-finals after not being in the competition for eight years is fantastic. The resource we have sometimes acts as a hindrance as there is such an expectation but sometimes reality has to kick in. Chelsea are a club oozing with European pedigree and in the end they come out on top. It is a trait that makes a difference, no doubt about it. Laurent Blanc has been absolutely terrific since he took over and it is harsh to question him after the euphoria his team has brought this season. Many will question his ability as a coach in a big game like last Tuesday but for a debut season he is on the cusp of retaining the league and we have a Coupe de la Ligue Final to look forward to next week. Not bad is it?

Ironically, our opponents tomorrow are Olympique Lyonnais, the club we will face at the Stade de France next week. We have happy memories of our trip to the Stade de Gerland after clinching our first league title in 18-years on the ground of France’s most dominant club in the previous decade. Who can forget Mamadou Sakho celebrating with the travelling Parisien contingent? Or Nicolas Douchez and Clement Chantome sharing a beer in the centre circle after the game had finished? Even David Beckham making a rare appearence for an interview in French, egged on by Sakho. It was a beautiful night which culminated in a weeklong celebration.

Lyon have been inconsistent it is fair to say. It is obvious their exploits in Europe have taken their toll and they were eliminated from the Europa League by the favourites Juventus on Thursday. Their hopes of Champions League qualification have diminished but they do have fourth-placed Saint-Etienne in their sights (despite losing to them two weeks ago) for that final European spot.

So both clubs are coming off disappointing nights in Europe and will be looking to get back on track tomorrow. The nights at the Gerland are always boisterous and Les Parisiens will have to be far from sombre if we are to get a result. There should be no need for motivation and it could be added if Rennes beat Monaco tonight. If that happens, a PSG win will secure a consecutive league title. Deja vu as it will be the consecutive time the club has won the league in Lyon, rubbing the noses in it of France’s most dominant club in the last decade.

Laurent Blanc and Remi Garde will be seeing plenty of each other in the next week and tomorrow is far from a dress rehearsal for next week’s final. Both sides have something to play for which should set up a tantalising contest. By the end of the weekend, we could even be champions again!


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