Deschamps and Marseille happy to win the cup nobody wanted
RESULTS Sat Mar 27 Lyon 2-0 Grenoble Sun Mar 28 Le Mans 1-3 Rennes, Lorient 4-0 Saint-ÃÂtienne, Toulouse 0-2 Nice, PSG 3-0 Boulogne, Nancy 5-1 Lens, Lille 4-1 Montpellier
As if wearing a skanky T-shirt on which was written the cringe-inducing slogan Ã¢ÂÂbeen there, done that and all I got was this lousy trophyÃ¢ÂÂ, Bordeaux manager Laurent Blanc treated this weekendÃ¢ÂÂs League Cup final against Marseille with the kind of disdain that left no one under the illusion that he considered it to be a major inconvenience.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Blanc gave such a master class in the art of escapology that it would have even left the legendary Harry Houdini clapping and shouting: Ã¢ÂÂBravo, Bravo!Ã¢ÂÂ
The Great Blanc, as he is known in the magic circle, somehow managed to extricate himself from even broaching the subject of the League Cup for a staggering 20 minutes.
Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs always a pleasure to play a final,Ã¢ÂÂ Blanc said, checking his watch and doing his best not to roll his eyes. Ã¢ÂÂThe only problem is that we have a big match, which is very important for the club, the staff and the players, coming up against Lyon.Ã¢ÂÂ
"Well, I can think of one competition I care about more than the League Cup..."
After winning the League Cup three times in the last seven years, itÃ¢ÂÂs no exaggeration to say that Bordeaux no longer take the competition all that seriously, nor does it figure as high as before on their list of priorities, not with a Champions League quarter-final coming up against Lyon on Tuesday anyway.
But if weÃ¢ÂÂre honest, itÃ¢ÂÂs not as if they have to do much to win it either. The current format sees last yearÃ¢ÂÂs top four in Ligue 1 automatically receive a bye to the last 16 of the competition, and if that isnÃ¢ÂÂt enough of an advantage they are also kept apart until the semi-finals.
Meanwhile, Marouane Chamakh, BordeauxÃ¢ÂÂs headstrong striker, was sat alongside Blanc with the relaxed demeanour of a Bond villain stroking a League Cup shaped cat.
After laughing deeply for around two minutes, he put his little finger to his lips and asked: Ã¢ÂÂWhat other competition allows you to win a trophy after playing just five matches?Ã¢ÂÂ
Chamakh then had his Ã¢ÂÂNo Mr Bond, I want you to dieÃ¢ÂÂ moment, showing all the hubris of a much taller and Moroccan Napoleon Bonaparte whose ability with his head had led to the prospect of a move to Arsenal and not exile to Elba. Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs not the League Cup,Ã¢ÂÂ he quipped. Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs the Bordeaux Cup.Ã¢ÂÂ
ItÃ¢ÂÂs also unsurprising that BordeauxÃ¢ÂÂs all too nonchalant attitude started rubbing people up the wrong way. In fact, when Blanc didnÃ¢ÂÂt exactly discourage the idea of playing a B team, Rennes manager FrÃÂ©dÃÂ©ric Antonetti practically started slapping his head and blowing a raspberry. Ã¢ÂÂThey want to cancel the League Cup, I think itÃ¢ÂÂs bullsh*t,Ã¢ÂÂ he raged.
Lyon were also understandably seething after Bordeaux succeeded in getting their rivalÃ¢ÂÂs Ligue 1 match against Grenoble on Friday moved to the following day so that both teams would now have the same amount of time to prepare for TuesdayÃ¢ÂÂs Champions League quarter-final.
Ã¢ÂÂDonÃ¢ÂÂt talk to me about fairness when you know how things go, when Blanc directly calls the League president to try and influence him,Ã¢ÂÂ Claude Puel said, all the while shaking his fist in BordeauxÃ¢ÂÂs general direction.
But what about Marseille in all this? After all they were finalists too. And they actually wanted to win the Cup of no one cares.
"I was the World Cup winning captain", "No, I was!"
When asked how he would approach his first final with LÃ¢ÂÂOM, Didier Deschamps produced a wry smile and said: Ã¢ÂÂBut itÃ¢ÂÂs not my first final with themÃ¢ÂÂ¦Ã¢ÂÂ
Lest we forget, Deschamps actually captained the last Marseille side to win any silverware 17 years ago, something not lost on the French media.
The question he now had to answer was a simple one: Could he coach the next one? Ã¢ÂÂI have not come here today to have a walk-on part,Ã¢ÂÂ sneered French footballÃ¢ÂÂs answer to Clint Eastwood. Ã¢ÂÂI have come for the victory.Ã¢ÂÂ
There is a sense with Deschamps that his desire to win is so strong that even when play-fighting with his children at home heÃ¢ÂÂd be looking for a knock out punch and then for his adoring wife to lift his arm in victory before the rapturous applause of the household furniture.
This is a man who has been to 16 major finals, winning the World Cup, the European Championship and the Champions League. ThatÃ¢ÂÂs why Deschamps said: Ã¢ÂÂI donÃ¢ÂÂt see Bordeaux coming to the Stade de France just to be tourists.Ã¢ÂÂ
The very notion of playing a final as if it were merely jumpers for goalposts down the local park was an insult to him.
And with only three points now separating Bordeaux and Marseille in Ligue 1, it wasnÃ¢ÂÂt lost on Deschamps that this final might be a title decider, or at the very least a psychological launch pad to bigger and better things for a club starved of success.
Sooner or later, Blanc also realised as much, fielding close to a full strength team, including Gourcuff and Chamakh, in recognition that a) Marseille meant business b) they would pose a bigger threat than last yearÃ¢ÂÂs finalists, Ligue 2 side Vannes, and c) public pressure now demanded that Bordeaux show the competition some respect.
And right from the start les Girondins befitted their status as French champions and holders, dominating possession for most of the first half.
Diawara cared about the League Cup, evidently
When MarseilleÃ¢ÂÂs captain and top scorer Mamadou Niang went off injured just after the interval, the momentum appeared to swing even further in BordeauxÃ¢ÂÂs favour.
That was until Deschamps brought on Mathieu Ã¢ÂÂMad DogÃ¢ÂÂ Valbuena, the attacking midfielder who had come up through BordeauxÃ¢ÂÂs youth ranks only to be cut after being deemed not good enough for a professional contract.
Obviously feeling he had something to prove, Valbuena made an instant impact, winning the corner from which Marseille took the lead.
Souleymane Diawara, LÃ¢ÂÂOMÃ¢ÂÂs towering centre-back who left Bordeaux in the summer, got in front of his marker and powered a header beyond Ulrich Rame just after the hour-mark before pointedly kissing the Marseille badge.
From then on, it was one-way traffic. Seven minutes later Hatem Ben Arfa found Valbuena in the box who showed absolutely no hesitation in doubling his sideÃ¢ÂÂs lead.
The knock out blow came in the 77th minute when that man again - Valbuena - lashed in a free-kick, which deflected off Mathieu ChalmÃÂ©, making it 3-0.
Bordeaux did eventually get a consolation goal through Ludovic SanÃÂ©, but MarseilleÃ¢ÂÂs 6149-day wait for silverware was over.
Mandanda won the 'biggest egg-cup' competition at the Marseille village fate
The Cup of no one cares clearly mattered a great deal to LÃ¢ÂÂOM. It was particularly charged with emotion because Robert Louis-Dreyfus, the clubÃ¢ÂÂs patron who had spent millions of pounds rebuilding the club after MarseilleÃ¢ÂÂs return to Ligue 1 in 1997 following the incredible corruption scandal that saw them relegated, hadnÃ¢ÂÂt lived to see them win anything under his presidency.
He tragically died in July last year after a long battle with leukemia.
Ã¢ÂÂThis is the most beautiful homage possible to him and his wife and children who were in the stadium to see it,Ã¢ÂÂ Deschamps smiled. Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs a feeling of immense joy for everybody, above all the players.Ã¢ÂÂ
DD had done it again. And just as on July 12, 1998 when he was suspended for the World Cup final against Brazil at the Stade de France, Blanc had to watch from the sidelines as Deschamps lifted yet another trophy.
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