Michel di Vacri
I thought it would be amusing to go to watch our local team, OGC Nice play. The Eagles as they are known are third in Ligue One and therefore on target for a Champions League place. PSG have already won the title and by far the best team. Monaco are second and Olympique Lyon prior to PSG the most successful side fourth. This coastline’s least successful team this year is Olympic Marseilles who did win but were penalised by forfeiture the European Cup under the ownership of the controversial Bernard Tapie.
We first met yesterday at one of my favourite fish restaurants Boccaccio. Robert Tickler remarked that it was by far the most comfortable as the old quarter ones tend to be cramped. It passed approval.
Nice’s stadium the Allianz Riviera is way out of town. We needed to take the free bus service. The stadium reminded Bob of the Amex with its sweeping contours. We had seats in the Premium section which included amongst its facilities a live band. Some of the seats in other sections were only 12 euros, much cheaper than a Premier match. Despite this the stadium was less than half full and the President was complaining of the lack of support for a successful team in the local paper Nice Matin. One whole end was taken up by some passionate fans, the ultras, who assisted by a loudspeaker were extremely noisy.
One Nice player who English fans especially those at Newcastle will know is Hakim Ben Arta. His skills were really the difference between the two sides and we saw these show-cased in the first half when he dribbled last 3 Ajaccio defenders to slot the ball sweetly into the net. In the second half his pass led to the goal scored by Plea who already missed a total sitter in front of goal. In injury time Sira added a third. Nice are a young side, a work in progress with defender Le Marchand and Ben Arta the stand out players.
The bus service conveyed back us safely and speedily to Nice centre. Nice play PSG next week but they surprisingly lost 0-2 at home to Monaco and will surely be concentrating on their Champions League tie v Manchester City. After that Nice play a key game v Rennes who are fifth. This and the game after that away at Lyon will determine whether we qualify for the Champions League by finishing third.