Whilst the end of the season nears and PSG stumble towards a possible 11th Ligue 1 title, the much-needed drama will continue in the 3rd tier with a Paris region derby between Versailles and Red Star FC at the Stade Michel Hidalgo. With both sides on 53 points, and level in fourth place, the winner will have the right to hope for promotion if results go their way in the final four fixtures.
Even if original fixture was meant to be played in the grand surroundings of the Jean-Bouin Stadium opposite the Parc des Princes, a mixture of confusion and incompetence from both the Paris police prefecture and the French Football Federation sees the game being played in the northern Paris suburb of Saint-Gratien, at the Stade Michel Hidalgo. Thus, only a handful of fans from both sides will be able to attend a spectacle, that on all accounts, deserves higher attention.
After earning promotion from the fourth tier, the Versailles went on a spending spree to assemble a squad capable of reaching Ligue 2 at the first attempt, even managing to sign former dutch international Jeremain Lens. This was coupled with the signings of Sébastien Renot, Nancy’s Grégoire Lefebvre, and Pau’s Romain Armand. les Bleus have recently taken their foot off the gas in the promotion race however, but will be buoyed by their recent result against Sedan (1-2) away from home, with goalkeeper Renot in fact scoring a 96th minute winner to keep their promotion hopes alive.
Red Star have managed continue their good progress with manager Habib Beye this season. Aided by some of that controversial 777 investment, the club secured some key players on permanent contracts such as Fodé Doucouré, and managed to keep the likes of Damien Durand and Cheick N’Doye at the club. This is nowhere near the same level as Versailles, but the pair have been fiercely competing both on and off the pitch as two of the stronger Paris region clubs in the division. Les Audoniens have recently managed to bounce back from two defeats in a row against direct promotion rivals Concarneau (1-4) and Dunkerque (1-0) with wins against Nancy (1-4) and Bastia Borgo (1-0) to put themselves back in the race.
They say it is the hope that kills you. This will certainly be the case for both Les Audoniens and Versailles if promotion is not clinched this season. The National next year will be an even greater challenge, with four Ligue 2 sides being relegated to the semi-professional third tier, which could include Nîmes and Dijon.
Photo Credit: Bazil Fleury – @icietailleurs55 on Instagram.
GFFN | George Boxall