“If Brest does not see itself in the shoes of the little one by going to play PSG at the Parc des Princes, it is because we have passed a rather extraordinary milestone in a few weeks, a few months,” quips Éric Roy. Indeed, Paris Saint-Germain will leave with the favor of the forecasts against SB29 this Sunday (8:45 p.m.), at the end of the 19th day of Ligue 1. As always. Prize lists, budgets, individualities… There is no comparison between the two clubs, the two teams. Who can doubt that? However, it will not be a poster like the others. And it may not be as unbalanced as it appears on the field.
Just pay attention to the L1 ranking: PSG-Brest, it's first against third. At the end of summer, sailing to the top of the national hierarchy is one thing. The end of January is another one. “They are not third by chance,” confirms Luis Enrique, affirming that “this match motivates a lot” the Parisians and imagining that the Brestois “will play to win”. The Spanish technician is undoubtedly not wrong. Moribund, without spring and relegated at the time of the appointment of Éric Roy, at the start of 2023, Stade Brestois comfortably escaped last season before starting the 2023-24 campaign on a high. Only solid at the start, the Bretons have shown many other things in recent weeks and months. “The results mean that there is a little hype around Brest, the credit goes to the players. We are not going to complain about it, even if it must not be disruptive, it must not put more pressure,” swears coach Roy, assuring that there will be “the desire to be an actor in this meeting”.
And therefore not to give the stick to be beaten. Brendan Chardonnet, Pierre Lees-Melou and company are not known for folding easily. A team of warriors. PSG paid to see out the first leg, despite their 3-2 victory at Francis-le-Blé. The Parisians led 2-0 after half an hour before being caught behind and suffering in the game. A tight, tense game. Author of the winning penalty in the final, Mbappé even upset the public claiming insults towards Achraf Hakimi. Spirit of revenge in the Brest ranks? “No, these are not good levers,” notes Éric Roy. I just hope it will be less cruel, that’s all.” His players perhaps see things differently on this subject... In short, it was anything but a walk in the park for PSG. And regrets for the Brestois, who had a golden opportunity to end a series of… 14 defeats against the capital club. Brest’s latest success? January 26, 1985 (3-1).
This is the kind of statistic that the Breton players certainly have in mind, they who like to give themselves this kind of little challenge during a season which could well be historic. Brest has never finished higher than eighth place. It was during the 1986-87 season. “The state of mind is positive, we are on a good path. Going to the Parc is always a special match for the players, going to Paris… Even more so now that they clearly dominate the championship. Afterwards, there is no pressure, it is rather a privilege to travel to the Park with 34 points in 18 days. I want us to sink our teeth into this match and play as we know how,” insists Éric Roy, who has not coached for 10 years in Nice.
And added: “We have the ambition to cause them problems.” The former midfielder does not show off before coming up against the Parisian ogre, ensuring that “the objective is to finish the match without regrets” and preparing “for all scenarios, including a very complicated match with a large defeat. He nevertheless has a little idea in his head. “It remains a football match, the sport where the favorite wins least often... We have to hold on to that. It’s a sport that generates a lot of uncertainty. We hope that we will be able to push this uncertainty to the maximum,” says the clever ex-OM player.
Failing to reignite the suspense with a view to the title of champion of France, a Breton success in Paris would represent a hell of a thunderbolt, that's for sure. “We must already take the few points that are missing to ensure maintenance. And we'll see if we can do better. We're not going to get excited,” says Éric Roy, for whom the prospect of playing in Europe next season is as much “desire as fear”. For Paris, leader with five points ahead of Nice (which beat Metz on Saturday) and nine ahead of Brest and Monaco (which brought back a point from Marseille on Saturday), a poor performance would not be reassuring less than three weeks from the reception of Real Sociedad in the round of 16 first leg of the Champions League (February 14)… The combined absences of Kang-in Lee, Achraf Hakimi (selection), Milan Skriniar, Nuno Mendes and Presnel Kimpembe (injured) will not be able to serve of apology. Note that the people of Brest arrive on the banks of the Seine with all their strength for this unexpected poster.
Good news ? The loser – if there is one – will quickly have the opportunity to recover. Coincidentally with the calendar, the two teams will meet on February 7, again at the Parc des Princes, in the round of 16 of the Coupe de France. “I would have preferred to fall against Al-Nassr,” squeaks Éric Roy, referring to Cristiano Ronaldo’s recent comments on Ligue 1. And adding, more seriously: “But it’s PSG. We could have hoped for better but we will make do. The more important of the two matches? It's always the next one. So it's Sunday's, against the best in our championship. It will be a very exciting but difficult challenge to take on. Impossible mission ?