Police prep for problems at Marseille v PSG

28th April 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 28, 2006 (AFP) - Arch rivals Marseille and Paris St Germain will face more than a test of their trophy-winning potential in their first ever meeting in a French Cup final on Saturday.

PARIS, April 28, 2006 (AFP) - Arch rivals Marseille and Paris St Germain will face more than a test of their trophy-winning potential in their first ever meeting in a French Cup final on Saturday.

Both clubs have courted trouble on and off the pitch this season, and the issue of security for what should be a mouth-watering final at the Stade de France is high on the French authorities' list of priorities.

PSG striker Pauleta and Marseille midfielder Franck Ribery might best symbolise their clubs' respective ambitions on the pitch, however off it the encounter is being taken very seriously.

Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who has guaranteed a massive security cordon around the national stadium, has called for a final in which football, and not controversy, emerges king.

"We won't tolerate any kind of trouble," Sarkozy warned in midweek. "We want fans and their families to enjoy what should be a celebration of football. We've made sure that from the start to the finish of the final, everything will go well."

After a fifth consecutive season of Lyon dominating the league, the Marseille v PSG clash has all of France rubbing their hands in anticipation - despite the clubs' spat last month when Marseille sent a second string side to Paris in protest at what they believed were lax security measures.

Despite the French Cup's added attraction of an automatic place in the UEFA Cup for the winner, the final will also give fans nostalgic souvenirs of when PSG and Marseille used to win silverware on a regular basis.

Marseille are France's most fanatically supported club, but since their 1993 European Cup victory they have hopped from one crisis to the next and they haven't won the Cup since their 4-3 win over Monaco in 1989.

PSG, who won the European Cup winners' Cup in 1996, can at least boast having won the French Cup in 2004 when they beat lowly Chateauroux thanks to a game-winning header from Pauleta.

It was Pauleta's well-taken volley that secured a 2-1 victory over Nantes and a Cup final date last week, but the striker admits this encounter will have special significance.

"We've never played in a Cup final against Marseille before. Everyone knows about the rivalry, and that's perhaps the reason why it will be a more physical match than usual," said the Portuguese international.

"There will be a huge atmosphere just as there is every time we play Marseille. But I hope that all the players, and the fans outside the stadium respect each other."

Marseille have the upper hand in the league so far this season, with a 1-0 home win over Guy Lacombe's side in October preceding the controversial scoreless draw in Paris last month.

PSG will go into Saturday's final wary of Ribery, whose performances for Marseille this season have boosted his chances of World Cup inclusion.

A goal-scoring creative midfielder, Ribery is the kind of player who makes things happen - a fact which Pauleta, more an out and out striker, is happy to admit.

"He's a great player, and when I say that I mean he's the kind of player who can turn a match around," Pauleta conceded.

"I hope we'll see him dribbling round everybody, and having a great match. But I want to see Paris win at the end."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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