PSG and AS Monaco, the two financial heavyweights in the French Ligue 1, will go head to head on Sunday. With their star players and wealthy foreign owners, the new rivals are expected to dominate French football for years to come.
The two clubs are tipped to become the league's great rivals over the next few years. Frederic Thiriez, the head of France's Professional Football League (LFP), compared the match to Spain’s “El Clasico” between Real Madrid and Barcelona, while football blogs called Sunday's game “El Cashico”, in a reference to both clubs' fabulous wealth.
The similarities between the two financial heavyweights are striking.
Both have enjoyed their glory days in French football history but have gone through difficult times of late, Monaco suffering a humiliating relegation to second division in 2011.
Both are now in the hands of foreign billionaires pumping millions of Euros into the clubs. In early 2012, Qatar Investment Authority became the sole shareholder of PSG, while Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev bought the Monegasque club in December 2011.
Thanks to the millions invested, they both now have some of the top players in Europe. On one hand, PSG have Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Edison Cavani. On the other, Monaco can boast of Eric Abidal, Radamel Falcao and Joao Moutinho, among others.
'A first in France'
Buying international star players is not as common in France as it may be in other European countries, and the arrival of these players shook the French football world. “This is a first in France, it has never been done before,” David Ginola, a former PSG player and now football analyst, told the UK's Independent daily. “Paris and Monaco are doing it differently.”
And as though the parallel between the two clubs couldn’t get any closer, their coaches too have a common history. Paris’s Laurent Blanc played under Monaco’s Claudio Ranieri at Italian club Napoli in 1991-1992. They know each other well and share the same approach to playing entertaining attacking football.
“He has always preached good football, he has always wanted his teams to start playing from the back four, he has always wanted movement on the pitch, he has never been scared of fielding attacking players. We share the same philosophy,” Blanc, a former France coach, told reporters on Friday.
Since the beginning of the season, the two teams are off to unbeaten starts, although Monaco come into the game two points clear of their Parisian rivals. However, PSG wowed this week with an eye-catching 4-1 win over Olympiakos in the Champions League.
“It may not be a historic rivalry, but it remains an exceptional game from a football point of view,” Thiriez told France Football magazine.
Playing similar football, with similar cash to spend on equally good players, means PSG and Monaco are expected to give supporters in Paris's Parc des Prince, and viewers at home, a game to remember.
Date created : 2013-09-22