Rarely should a team be as motivated as RC Lens as they face PSG in the Coupe de la Ligue Wednesday evening. While revenge for losing last years final to PSG at the Stade de France 2-1 might be significant motivation for some, the behaviour of the Boulogne Boys as they unfurled a banner with disparaging comments of our northern neighbours, drives it to a whole new level. While their is little need to tread through that rather unsavoury time again in which a small grouping of fans cast a shadow over the Parisians or even draw attention to the conduct of some “ultras” throughout Ligue 1, regardless of how both clubs try to bury the situation it is not easily forgot. Additionally the peril of relegation has been a difficult time for Lens and although promotion appears to be in the horizon as they stand first in the table above US Boulogne they would love to remind PSG and all of Ligue 1 they are a capable of playing in the top flight. Said simply, motivation will not be a problem for RC Lens.
RC Lens president Gervais Martel has stated emphatically that the past needs to be put aside:
“I suppose this story will stay with us for some time. But football is an amazing thing, always on the move. I hope we can move onto something else.
“There have been many changes made, on all levels, that have shown people that stadiums aren’t the place for social or political commentary. Sure, we’ve been affected by what happened at the Stade de France, but we mustn’t confuse issues: what happened had nothing to do with the majority of Paris fans.”
Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) President Frédéric Thiriez has echoed that the match is a chance for Parisian Football fans to redeem their name:
“It’s great that the match will be played in Paris. The fans there owe something to football and to good sportsmanship and now they have a chance to show that they believe in fair play by extending a warm welcome to their visitors. It needs to be something special to welcome the Ch’tis and the Lens fans. This whole saga has caused me a lot of grief both personally and as LFP president. What those fans did diminished last season’s final. Now the Paris fans can prove that a bunch of idiots are the exception and not the rule.”
Look for an exciting passion-filled match and one that all Parisians can be proud of.
I will be at the match and provide a full report as it concludes although it could be quite late given the time the match is played.