speak to me European / Ligue 1 / J31 / Strasbourg-Lyon /

Racing is approaching its scheduled clash against Lyon for Sunday in the shoes of a virtually qualified European. This fourth place, as tentative as it is deserved, reveals a slow rise in power for the team coached by Julien Stéphan, who can now dream of Europe before a delicate final rush. Such an initiation would only be fair for this historic club and given his career this season. And a great service to French football.

Racing is having an exceptional season. If the Alsatian club’s performance has long remained under the radar of most commentators, focusing on Marseille, Nice or Rennes, its current ambush position is ultimately unsurprising. This success must first be measured by a budget (45 million euros) that is two times lower than that of the SRFC, and four times lower than that of OM or OL, not to mention PSG. To those who would also see it as the result of a “Maginot Line” syndrome, ie a solid defense that allows them to be outclassed, we will answer that Racing has the third attack in the championship and that the loyal public of La Meinau greeted more goals than 17 other Ligue 1 stadiums, including the Vélodrome. Strasbourg offers a good lesson for a Ligue 1 obsessed with selling its TV rights, especially internationally through its commercial business (and its investment fund returned to the capital), even tense by the crisis that is going through its Paris gondola . However, anyone who loves this sport knows that a real football country needs this profile of clubs, these venerable institutions that sometimes manage to sit at the table of high authorities.

reason to keep

In any case, Philippe Wolf, president of the Racing supporters’ federation, is enjoying this year 2022 as it should be, keeping his feet and the megaphone on the ground. “We were already getting used to the new idea that we could string together really solid performances week after week, which took time because we weren’t really used to it.reports the Alsatian. I think we are in place today, which does not mean that it will remain that way until the end of the season, and that the supporters, after dreaming about it for weeks, are telling themselves that we now concretely, really, have a real chance of finishing in the European places. On the other hand, we don’t talk too much about the Champions League, it always seems inaccessible. †

After previous seasons focused entirely on maintaining, sometimes snatched on the last day by a miraculous free kick, the slow reconstruction of a Racing, now weighing among its peers and almost disappearing, regains its rank, so on the point to succeed. Admittedly, the 2019 League Cup had allowed a return to continental level, but the adventure had stopped at the C3 play-offs against Eintracht Frankfurt. To taste Europe again, moreover, after conquering its place in the championship, would become a sweet smell of recognition, almost of revenge. The return of Kevin Gameiro, who took part in the European adventure in 2005 (with a double against the Red Star of Belgrade) and who shines like a loyal soldier of the shirt on the ground, seems to confirm the alignment of the stars above the Rhine . With the implicit hope that some prestigious names from the old continent, even if they were former executioners like Manchester United in 1965 or Ajax in 1980, will come out of a draw. Liverpool FC’s exit from the UEFA Cup after a 3-0 home win with a David Zitelli brace is still fresh in our minds.

Still, the mood in the stands remains modest. “The club already played a few European Cup matches two years ago, even if they were only preliminary roundsremembers Philippe Wolf. The Meinau had been very hot, especially during the Frankfurt reception. I don’t think you need Europe to fully enjoy a season at La Meinau, but that certainly makes you want to. Apart from this option, which may or may not take place within a month, it mainly validates the progress of the club. In that sense, we hope not to reconnect with the past that consisted mainly of (very) highs and (very) lows. The real evolution, the real commitment, would be to be able to stay in the top 10 of Ligue 1 in the long run. †

The main obstacle, and which gives all its importance to the arrival of Les Gones, remains indeed a rather difficult schedule. The final day’s journey to Marseille, which may well defend its direct qualifying place in C1, will certainly shine as a dangerous apotheosis. The recent past has illustrated Strasbourg’s ability to transcend itself when it comes to avoiding relegation or tripping up the big cars (Neymar’s PSG in 2017, for example). Will they be able to do the same if every point counts to reach the European summits? Response in the coming weeks.

By Nicolas Kssis-Martov

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