In the Coupe de France, the happiness of the little ones is the misfortune of the big ones. We are not going to be happy about the misadventure of Lens, a historic French football club, but the qualification of its opponent Red Star, a third division club (National) which has always done credit to popular football, is good news. As well as the good fortune of Puy-en-Velay (fourth division) against Lorient (Ligue 2), a few days after the official announcement of the cancellation of all amateur championships, to which the Haute-Loire club falls.
“It feels good to talk about football and that football”
Something happened in the world of football this weekend, which owes not only to the sunny conditions which accompanied the round of 16 of the Coupe de France. The previous round had been marred by many controversies over the injustice of playing matches between professionals and semi-professionals and amateurs banned from training because of Covid legislation on team sports. None of that this time, as if the spring of football was announced with the prospect of a possible exit from the health and financial crisis, with the return of Canal + to broadcaster at least until the end of the season. . “It feels good to talk about football and nothing but football”, rejoices Vincent Duluc, head of the daily football section The team and recognized author of field essays.
A new president and a new coach for OM
Frequent in January during the first rounds of the Coupe de France opposing ogres and small thumbs, earthen pots against iron pots, this breath of fresh air has won over Ligue 1. The last two decades have roughly been dominated by two clubs, Lyon in the 2000s and Paris for the following decade. The suspense often boiled down to guessing when the king club was going to be crowned champion.
Nothing like this this year, since four clubs can claim the throne: Lille, Lyon, Paris and to a lesser extent Monaco, which gave up a little ground on the last day.
Between the first and the last, the gap is widening
With a little luck, we will know the champion on the last day of the championship, which has not happened for twenty years. “Our capacity for wonder had been blunted by the undivided domination of Paris SG, an unbeatable champion on the national level and at the same time far from the level on the European level, continues Vincent Duluc. We have the feeling of getting out of this double pain. Paris has proven that it has reached a milestone in the last Champions League (PSG were beaten in the final by Bayern Munich) and by going to crush Barcelona two weeks ago. The big French clubs have risen to its height ”.
The gang of four is not there by chance. Three of the contenders, Paris, Monaco and Lyon have played at least one Champions League semi-final in the past three years. And the fourth thief from Lille has qualified four times for Europe over the past ten seasons.
Sport renowned for making a large place at random, football is putting the lie to its legend: its top-ranking clubs are widening the gap faster and stronger, the points differential between the first and the last having never was also strong. “As my grandmother used to say, it rains harder and harder where it is already wet”, continues the poet Duluc. So to say that the economic and financial power of the big clubs leaves only crumbs to the peasants.
Paris will find Neymar
The victory of the championship will therefore be played between these four clubs for which everything can change in a few seconds. Witness this last day of Ligue 1 on Wednesday March 3 when all the clubs played on the same day at the same time. In the middle of the second half, the scepter of provisional championship leader changed tenant several times. Lille got their hands on it last, but we can tell that Paris will not be fooled by next weekend for the next day.
→ ANALYSIS. Football: Champions League, reform of the strongest
In the meantime, the Parisians will have faced Barcelona on Wednesday March 10 in the Champions League in an apparently comfortable second leg (they won 4-1 in the first leg in Catalonia). And they will likely have recovered the injured Neymar, after reuniting with Marco Verratti and Angel Di Maria this weekend. The match is far from over.