Seen from afar, it’s a preparation match like there are dozens of during the summer, between a Ligue 2 team, in the middle of the transfer window, and an elite formation, which seeks above all to avoid injuries.
However, this opposition between Normans and Parisians will occupy a special place in this tormented year, with the end of all competitions due to the pandemic due to the coronavirus. For the first time in four months among the five countries of « Big 5 » (Spain, England, Germany, Italy, France), a meeting with an elite club will be disputed in front of spectators. The gauge set by the French government, which applies from Saturday, allows, in fact, 4,980 people within the confines of the Océane stadium.
Without counting the supervision of each team, the employees in charge of security, the organization or the refreshment bar, and the journalists, that makes between 4,000 and 4,500 tickets available to spectators – who were torn off in six minutes, according to the Le Havre club.
In the stands or around the lawn, everyone must respect the sanitary specifications. For the public, it is compulsory to wear a mask, in addition to social distancing and the direction of movement in the stadium to be respected. Behind the scenes, at the request of the Parisian leaders, people who will live in the same areas as the players will have to take two Covid-19 screening tests (a PCR test and a serological test).
“All eyes will be on Le Havre”, said with a smile the coach of the HAC, Paul Le Guen, former player and technician of the PSG, in an interview given to the site of the club, before recovering: “Rather turned towards the PSG, we are not fooled”.
Three trophies to win this summer
Because the champion club of France is preparing for its most exciting summer: with two finals to play (Coupe de France and the League, July 24 and 31) and the final eight-way tournament of the Champions League in Lisbon, it can win three trophies at best, playing just five matches.
A huge challenge, but up to the means of this Parisian team which believes more than ever in its European chances, exhilarated by its 8e victorious final against Dortmund.
The draw on Friday gave him a table within his grasp, with a quarter-final against Atalanta Bergamo before a semi-final against Atlético de Madrid or Leipzig. But today, “It’s Saint-Etienne [en Coupe de France] first of all “, assures Thomas Tuchel, who has to restart a machine stopped since March 11.
The coach fears above all injuries, which have not spared his group in recent months. After returning to Camp des Loges on June 22, PSG resumed collective training ten days later.
“The most important thing is to stay together without major injury, to find our rhythm. It’s very complicated, we must remain very attentive to the health of the players ”, explained the Swabian technician, who will benefit from two additional test gallops, against the Belgians of Waasland-Beveren, on July 17, and the Scots of Celtic Glasgow, on the 21.
In Le Havre, it will be more a question of letting Kylian Mbappé or Neymar stretch his legs, than of seeing how Tuchel intends to compensate for the departures of Edinson Cavani and Thomas Meunier, who leave a void in attack and defense.
“This match will above all be what PSG wants to make of it”, assures Le Guen, who has already planned to rotate its workforce. “I’m going to play two teams, forty-five minutes each. Even if it’s a gala match, we’re going to use this match to do a great training and build up strength. “ Paris, too, asks only that.