Saturday, July 19, 2014

Dijon FCO - Le Havre AC (14-03-2014)

 After almost 1.5 years I was finally back in Europe and, even more importantly, able to meet up with my brother T. for an old-fashioned four games in three days groundhop weekend. The first game was Friday evening in the mid-East of France, in the city of Dijon, known better for its spicy mustard than for its football. It is home to Dijon Football Côte d'Or, which was founded in 1998 as a merger of Cercle Dijon Football and Dijon FC. Better known as Dijon FCO or DFCO, the club currently plays in the Ligue 2, France’s Second Division.

We arrive at the stadium at 19:45, roughly 15 minutes before kick-off. The Stade Gaston-Gérard was built in 1934, but has quite recently been seriously modernized. It is situated in a residential area in the northern part of town and can hold 15,995 people.

There is quite a (disorganized) line in front of the old tickets office. We pay only €10 for a covered seat on the new stand behind the goal. Before taking our seats we sample the stadium food, which is the by now staple selection in French stadiums: Sandwich Merguez (€4.50), a very long roll and long and thin sausage (spicy but a bit dry), and Fries (€3), thick and not particularly good.

By the time we take our seat, the game is already a few minutes old. We sit up relatively high with a good view of the game. I estimate that there are ca. 7.000 people in the stadium, so almost half full. Only a few supporters have made the 500 km trek from Le Havre.

The pace of the game is not very high, while the players’ technique and teams’ tactics are poor. DFCO has the most of the game, but Le Havre the better play. In the 18th minute a home player tries a low shot from almost 30 meters. The ball has a great curve and is hidden from goalie: 1-0. Six minutes later the guests have a good attack that puts the right-wing forward in front of the goal. Despite of a good attempt by the DFCO goalie he scores: 1-1. Two minutes before half time the guests have a good attack over the left flank and the same player beats his defender and tips it in: 1-2.

The second half starts with slow and poor football. It the 50th minute DFCO gets a free kick just outside of the penalty box, which lands on the cross. Beautiful! After 30 minutes of low pressure by the home team, Le Havre finally starts to play a bit again.In the 76th minute they have a decent shot on goal.

As the guests start to put the pressure up, the defense of DFCO looks shoddy. Given that Le Havre never really pushes very hard, always holding many players behind, the score doesn’t change. Le Havre doesn’t need to, and DFCO isn’t able to. Final score: 1-2. 

While fans around us complain a bit, they are clearly used to dire performances of their home team. Resigned to their fates they make it back to their home. Overall a nice, kind of old-school football night.

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