“The harder the fight, the better the victory. » All smiles and all sweating, Loïc Badé unsheathed this sentence (also heard on the song “Garcimore” by Booba in 2007) facing the camera, this Thursday, late at night in Budapest, after winning the first European Cup of his young career under the colors of Sevilla FC by crushing Roma on penalties. It must be said that yes, the course of the Andalusians has been strewn with pitfalls this season, so even if the French defender has decided to illustrate it with a formula which resembles those which one writes on his kit to kill the time in college when morale is not at its highest, it must be recognized that his analysis sums up the epic of his people rather well.
Some 1692 kilometers from the Hungarian capital, supporters of Le Havre Athletic Club inevitably had a twinge of heart when they remembered that Loïc Badé, 23, is a guy who, like a good number of French football talents, was trained at the Cavée verte. Then they suddenly pulled themselves together and remembered that there was a fight to fight, this Friday against Dijon, that it will be hard and that the victory will be beautiful even if it is in fact a draw. .
Unheard of since 1955
This is perhaps where it should have started: this Friday evening may be the biggest evening of the century for the HAC, which only needs a small point against the relegated Dijon (18e) to validate his Ligue 2 champion title and his promotion to Ligue 1. The match is being played at the Océane stadium, the 25,000 seats have been sold like small traditional baguettes and if things go as they should, a fireworks will erupt later in the evening, and a parade will take place the following day in the city. Édouard Philippe and the entire Seine-Maritime sub-prefecture have been ready for this deadline for a long time. It must be said that by equaling the longest series of invincibility in the history of the French D2 held by Sedan (May 1954 to February 1955), the people of Le Havre have long given the impression of walking on water. We never remain undefeated 32 games in a row by chance, no matter if this series contains its share of suffering. Nothing has been easy in the HAC season, and the simple fact that the climb is not validated when there are only 90 minutes left to play in this championship makes it possible not to forget it.
4 players in the typical team of the season
Before rubbing shoulders with a DFCO of Pascal Dupraz who is playing for his survival in Ligue 2 and who has not lost for eight games, the HAC has two options. The first is to lower your head, to doubt, to tell yourself that he has just taken 1 point out of 9 when he had lost only one match this season, last August… Head down, the club dean will then see figures appear before his eyes that he will analyze poorly: Le Havre only has the eighth best attack in the championship, none of his guys are in the top 28 of the top scorers of the L2 season (!) and none did not find a place in the top 24 of the best passers. The second option is the one that the Normans would be inspired to follow: to say to themselves that when no offensive individuality emerges, it means that the collective is solid, that the strong links are everywhere and the weak links a little nowhere. The Ciels and Marines must therefore have confidence in their football and remember, for example, that four of them were part of the UNFP type team in Ligue 2, unveiled last Sunday in Paris. The four fellows are the deterrent goalkeeper Arthur Desmas, as well as three players trained at the club: the rough central defender Arouna Sanganté, the elegant midfielder Amir Richardson and the boss of the midfield and captain Victor Lekhal. Four boys who, against Dijon, will be lined up at kick-off by Luka Elsner, who has just been voted best coach in Ligue 2 by his peers.
🏆 𝐋𝐞𝐬 𝐓𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐡𝐞́𝐞𝐬 𝐔𝐍𝐅𝐏
— Havre Athletic Club ⚽️ (@HAC_Foot) May 29, 2023
The 8e Ligue 2 budget
In the midst of this whirlwind of emotions in which the people of Le Havre are caught up, it is necessary to take a step back and highlight some factual elements: at the start of the season, the HAC, 8e championship budget with 13 million euros (much less than the trio of fortunate people made up of Bordeaux 40M€, Saint-Étienne 30M€ and Metz 25M€), did not really have the weapons to aim for Ligue 1, or so this would correspond to saying that Nantes, 8e budget of the elite, could also have played the title in his division. Truce of comparison badly felt, when Jean-Michel Roussier landed at the presidency to relieve the American Vincent Volpe (still owner of the club), that Mathieu Bodmer was appointed sports director and that he quickly inducted Luka Elsner to the position of coach, few could imagine that the HAC would still play the climb on the last day in Ligue 2, having accumulated 20 clean sheets in 37 days. The Norman club had been vegetating for fifteen years in the antechamber of the elite of French football, and the speech that Luka Elsner held had only one merit: to decide with that of predecessors (Cédric Daury, Erick Mombaerts, Thierry Goudet, Bob Bradley, Oswald Tanchot and Paul Le Guen) who, if they are not to be put in the same boat, have the common point of having shown up by talking straight away about a climb or “rise within two years”. The Slovenian, his hair neatly combed, arrived on tiptoe and moved the cursor of his communication elsewhere. He mentioned the goal of “bring people back to the stadium”. Nine months ago, this formula seemed very abstract. This Friday, the Hacmen will therefore be carried by an Océane stadium filled with 25,000 souls, which will help to swell an average of 11,900 spectators per match this season so far (compared to 5,900 during the previous year). Luka Elsner has therefore already fulfilled his objective. Without shouting it from the rooftops, the 40-year-old tactician also accompanied his arrival with small revolutions, such as that of quickly repainting the training center in the colors of the HAC, where two shades of blue are omnipresent today. Also, the former coach of Amiens asked that a frieze bringing together the major dates in the history of the oldest club be painted in this building, so that it is under the eyes of his players on a daily basis. This Friday, Victor Lekhal and his teammates have only one objective: to force the decoration team to come back Monday morning for a little touch-up.
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