The Paris derby. Or what counts as a derby in the City of Light. Moreover, it was the top game of the division this weekend as the visitors from the South of Paris came as leaders of the National, France’s third division and the hosts who are two places behind them.
A journey to the match that began in good spirits but ended abruptly due to the announcement that suspicious baggage was found at the terminus of the Metro line 4. A peaceful journey turned into a journey of haste, sweat and expletives. This was aggravated at the ground. A crowd of 400-500 punters desired to be let into the stands to watch the game. Yet, for some reasons the home club, Red Star, were simply overwhelmed by the rush. Was it incompetence or just a complete underestimation of the crowd? Whatever it was, it was a disaster and the club will have to address this. French crowds tend to arrive late at games anyway. The gathering outside the gates was nevertheless there since kick-off demanding to be let in. This is unacceptable. The club are on their way to win promotion but their gate policy is a shambles.
The Stade Bauer officially holds 10000. So how come 75% of the ground are left empty, yet it is sold out nonetheless? Large parts of the ground lay empty. Some parts are obviously no longer in a state to host a football crowd. The large stand behind one of the goals which also houses the offices and the dressing rooms was empty. It easily holds 4000 people. Through this revenue alone, a renovation of other parts of the ground become a possibility. However, officially there were 2977 paying guests at the ground for the match; not even a third of the ground’s capacity.
The match itself was an entertaining affair during the second half. Both teams were out to play football. Initially, Red Star looked the better of the two, commanding the midfield and looking sleek going forward. Yet, this momentum soon faded and Paris clawed back some lost territory. Their passing looked even more impressive than Red Star’s. With a number of quick passes they unhinged the host’s defence and Chevallier had no problem to convert from 12 meters.
This was the long needed wake up call for Red Star to step up their efforts. Within 5 minutes they had a veritable claim for a penalty which was declined by the otherwise low-key referee. It looked as though a hand was holding back Red Star’s forward Bouazza. The referee had none of it. Just a few minutes later, Red Star finally leveled the score, via penalty.
With 20 minutes to go, the pendulum had swung back to Red Star but Paris remained dangerous with the odd counter.
The red pressure finally paid off. A corner from the left was met perfectly by the towering Kante