On a mild autumn November evening Paris St. Germain took on Borussia Dortmund to secure their place in the knockout stages while the visitors from Germany needed a win to keep alive their chances for European football after the winter break. A match for two teams that do not boast the big names in their squads and which are aiming for European glory in the ground that saw the first ever European Cup Final over fifty years ago. By that time PSG has not even been founded while Dortmund won their first national title.
Tonight the ground could have been mistaken for the Westfalenstadion as Dortmund’s colours appeared to outnumber the blue shirts of PSG. What a shame there was so much empty space in every corner of the ground, which is certainly due to events from the last couple of years which saw extreme violence among PSG “fans” and even the death of a supporter. Due to ludicrous stewarding outside Parc des Princes the first three or four minutes have been missed, albeit nothing worth noting has been missed.
What was to follow however, was an entertaining game of European football by two teams inspired by fluid passing and quick moves. The game started with both teams nervous as school boys and only after 15 or 20 minutes the movements in attack became more and more structured. Paris looked more settled in defence while hasty Dortmund failed to put together any promising forward movement inside the first period of the half. What followed was a first half that saw chances to open the scoring on both ends beginning with Dortmund’s Piszczek blasting the ball over the bar. On the other end Erding misplaced a header. A sign that the nervousness was still present was that Dortmund tried to clear with long balls from defence into midfield where Sahin and Kagawa were trying to pull the strings. Paris on the other hand looked menacing on the counter attack which more than once troubled the young visitor’s defenders. In front of goal it appeared as though Dortmund have been watching too much of snippet DVDs from Arsenal as they tried to tip tap the ball into the net but more often than not the legs of the Paris defence stood in the way of any quickly assembled passing movement. Towards the end of the first half Dortmund looked to be scoring any time soon, only to be thwarted by Edel in the Paris goal. Sahin’s blast over the cross bar was the last action of a promising half, where Dortmund controlled most of the game and enjoyed more of the ball.
The game restarted and Jürgen Klopp made a substitution: off went Piszczek and on came Blaszczykowski. Once more Erding’s heading abilities let him down as another header went off target, in the other direction Kagawa’s shot flew over, too. This however, set the tone for a second half that was dramatic. The game went up and down the park, with Dortmund now controlling the game and Paris remaining dangerous on the counter attack. Once more Erding had the chance to open the scoring. Dortmund’s back line speculated on the offside trap but slept collectively. Their keeper Weidenfeller denied Erding superbly in a one on one situation. The direct riposte saw Barrios shot going wide by a few meters. Once more Erding and once more Weidenfeller to deny him. That seemed to be the last of PSG as for the last twenty minutes Dortmund launched attack after attack onto the goal of Edel. Lucas Barrios came off and Lewandowski replaced him and bringing fresh legs for the final period of the match. What followed was a series of promising looking openings for Dortmund by the minute, Paris now not even couterattaking, just sitting and defending deep, spoiling every single thrust Dortmund threw at them. The climax of the game came in the last minute of regular playing time when Lewandowski and Kagawa had clear chances to put the ball into the back of the net, only to see their shots denied twice superbly by the Paris keeper Edel. That was that.
Dortmund deserved the three points but failed to score against a solid but occasionally shaky Paris defence. It remains to be seen if this will be enough as the next two games will be against Karpaty Lwiw at home and Sevilla away. Dortmund will now need two wins from their last two matches to secure progress to the knock-out stages come February and have to rely on PSG to lose at least of one their last two.
The stadium was barely half full and of that half, plenty of yellow and black shirts from Germany occupied large parts of the stands. The away end was fully packed so were other areas of the ground. It was estimated that around 7000 fans from Dortmund followed their team to Paris; this accounts almost for a third of the evening’s attendance! On top of that the Dortmund fans outfought their Paris counterparts on the singing front, too. Certainly the ticketing policy at PSG has come to fruition alas at the cost of atmosphere. It was quiet for long periods of the first half in both the Boulogne and the Auteuil Kop, while the way fans jumped and sang and enjoyed themselves.
Cause for concern: Seeing a PSG “supporter” sporting a Thor Steinar jacket, a brand favoured by neo Nazis.
Giggles: The announcement of two minutes of added time in German by the french security: NACH – SPIEL – ZEIT. The speaker seemed to twist his tongue while trying to pronounce it correctly. He succeeded but he took his time; about twenty seconds for the whole word.