The Paris Derby re-loaded ⋆ An Old International

The Paris Derby re-loaded

Just over six months ago Paris FC travelled to the northern Peripherique of Paris to play Red Star FC at the beloveth Stade Bauer in St. Ouen. Back then it looked unlikely that PFC would go up. Well, they did as did Red Star. Here’s to another Paris derby, though a smaller one but a level higher than in February.

Red Star had a bad start to the season but recovered well and are now in the top ten within eye sight of the promotion spots. The fate of Paris FC is exactly the opposite: their start to the season was bright but faded lately and currently they are hovering above the relegation zone. This is somewhat sad as their fan base seems to have increased over the last months and even saw the development of two rivalling groups of Ùltras who have created some vital noise in this scenic yet criminally underused stadium on the southern edge of Paris.

The Red Stars come with a record of 3 wins from the last 5 games, the last 2 matches being victorious and therefore in form; PFC on the other hand managed only 3 draws form their last 5 matches, one 0-0 draw against AC Ajaccio last month.

Was this match nothing to get excited about, today’s encounter had it all: an away end that buzzed with energy and noise and which out sung the home crowd with ease. While sunshine in November is not unusual, temperatures of around 20° are and this felt more like a summer afternoon than autumn. The main stand was almost at capacity which was a lovely sight. In total there were around 7000 people attending, certainly profiting from the weather.

From kick-off Paris looked better on the ball since the last visit, their passing movement had more purpose and was less anxious. In contrast Red Star had to work hard to get anything going forward. That way a lively game developed that at this point could have swung either way. Towards the end, Red Star increasingly dominated the game without threatening to score a goal and Paris retained their poise on the counter. At 0-0 after 45 minutes both teams could take a lot of positives going into the dressing rooms for their refreshments and instructions.

For the re-start both teams continued where they have finished in the first half: technically fine football with tempo but without the ultimate break through on either side. However, the longer the half went on, Red Star increased the pressure and were denied on numerous occasions. It had an air of bitterness about it as Paris had their chances, too on the counter, though they were equally wasteful. With the last 10 minutes of game beginning, Red Star looked more and more desperate, with Paris failing to capitalize from the options that were there. Release came after 86 minutes when a sleak passing movement found Ngamukol in a scoring position from around 12m out. He was onside. He kept his cool and put the ball past the Paris keeper who has had not a lot of work to do until this point in the match. He made one grave error afterwards: he ran towards the wrong corner of the ground to celebrate: The away fans were on the opposite side. There was nothing the Paris keeper could have done to prevent the goal, the ball was well placed and paced. The away end erupted and made it clear what they thought of Paris FC. Just minutes later Paris had a corner and the resulting header almost found the net but flew inches past the post. A sigh of relief in the away end and an expression of disbelief on the home supporters’ faces.

A sunny day out for a large crowd on a Saturday afternoon saw Red Star win deservedly in the end. It took a while before they scored but we all know, that goals are overrated.

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