Troyes v. Paris: The Battle of Troyes!
Ahead of Les Parisiens’ trip to Troyes on Matchday 34 of Ligue 1 – tomorrow at 20:45 CET – we take a look ahead to the game at the Stade de l’Aube. Whether it’s through memories of the two teams’ previous encounters, their league positions, their current form or their players to watch, here’s an overview of what awaits Les Rouge et Bleu against ESTAC.
A LOOK AT THE TABLE
With a total of 24 wins, three draws and six defeats in 33 league games, Paris Saint-Germain sit at the top of the Ligue 1 table. The capital club are currently on 75 points, five ahead of second-placed Marseille and six ahead of third-placed RC Lens.
ESTAC, meanwhile, are having a much trickier campaign, as Les Troyens are currently 18th and on course for relegation to Ligue 2. With four wins, ten draws and 19 defeats, Patrick Kisnorbo's side have racked up 22 points. After being crowned Ligue 2 champions in 2021, ESTAC managed to keep themselves in the top flight last season by finishing 15th, but with a ten-point gap between themselves and RC Strasbourg Alsace, who are currently 16th and just above the drop zone, the club from the department of Aube seem destined to return to the second tier this time around. For now, though, they're still in with a chance and will be intent on tripping up Les Parisiens.
THE REVERSE FIXTURE REVISITED
These two teams faced off on Matchday 13 of the league season on 29th October 2022 at the Parc des Princes – a dramatic encounter that ended up going the way of Les Parisiens, who earned a 4-3 home win. Yet, it was the visitors who fired the first salvo, with Mama Baldé opening the scoring from a Rony Lopes assist in the opening minutes of the game (0-1, 3'). 20 minutes later, the capital club found the back of the net themselves through a Carlos Soler strike, as the Spaniard received an inch-perfect pass from Neymar Jr before wrongfooting the opposition keeper and applying the finishing touch (1-1, 24').
In the second half, Les Troyens again showed formidable efficiency by retaking the lead through Baldé, who bagged himself a brace in the process (1-2, 52'). Lionel Messi then got in on the act to respond to the Guinean centre-forward and to draw Paris level again (2-2, 55'). On the hour mark, it was Neymar Jr's turn to beat Gauthier Gallon with a mid-height shot across goal to put Les Rouge et Bleu into the lead for the first time in the game (3-2, 62') – a lead that would be doubled by a Kylian Mbappé penalty with a quarter of an hour left to play (4-2, 77'). Ante Palaversa's goal in the final few minutes (4-3, 88') didn't change the outcome of the match, which saw Paris Saint-Germain win a topsy-turvy affair.
THE OPPONENTS' CURRENT FORM
In their last Ligue 1 outing, Les Troyens narrowly fell to a 1-0 defeat at home to OGC Nice, a game that Jeff Reine-Adélaïde and co. went into off the back of an entertaining 2-2 draw with Nantes at La Beaujoire. A week before that, ESTAC had been unable to upset the odds away to Marseille, where they were beaten 3-1.
After making a fairly encouraging start to the season under Bruno Irles and finding themselves in 13th in early November, Troyes would go on to have a much tougher time of things with Patrick Kisnorbo at the helm, as the Aube-based outfit have recorded just one win along with four draws and 12 defeats since the Australian's appointment as manager. Paris are therefore preparing to face a team full of doubts but one that will attempt to stay up by hook or by crook come the season's end.
KYLIAN MBAPPÉ v. MAMA BALDÉ: the game's big head-t0-head
The two strikers had already given each other a run for their money in the first leg. Kylian Mbappé, who scored his 23rd league goal of the season despite the defeat against Lorient, will be keen to find the net for the fourth game in a row after his goals in the last three games. The French striker played a big part in the victories against RC Lens and Angers SCO, but could not prevent his side's defeat against Les Merlus. In this Sunday's game, the Parisian number 7 will try to guide his team to leave the Stade de l'Aube with the 3 points.
As for Mama Baldé, he is having a very successful season. Involved in more than one out of three goals in the league for ESTAC, the former Dijon man did not wait until his arrival at the Parc des Princes last October to show his quality in the top flight. With his remarkable speed, the Guinean also knows how to use his agility and movement to cause problems for opposing defences.
The latter makes more forward passes than the French striker (24.2% against 18.7%). On the other hand, Kylian Mbappé is much more precise with his shots (56.3% of shots on target against 34.5%). This is the kind of precision that the Parisian attack will need to rely on to score on Sunday evening.
13 MARCH 2016: TROYES-PARIS, a closer look at a memorable game
It was in completely different circumstances that ESTAC hosted the Parisians at the Stade de l'Aube. On the season in which they returned to the top flight after winning the Ligue 2 title, Troyes were struggling to find their place in the league and were bottom of the table with 14 points from 29 games. The Rouge et Bleu were at the top of the table with an exceptional 74 points. And in this clash of two extremes, the Parisians needed just 20 minutes of play to wrap up the match. The elusive Edinson Cavani opened the scoring with a right-footed shot (0-1, 13') before Javier Pastore doubled the lead a few moments later (0-2, 17'). Adrien Rabiot's shot put the club from the capital out of sight and avoid any Troyes fightback (0-3, 19').
The second half began with one man making a real impact: Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swedish striker scored a magnificent hat-trick in the space of just ten minutes, assisted by Cavani (0-4, 46'), Angel Di Maria (0-5, 53') and Layvin Kurzawa (0-6, 56'). It was a real demonstration of collective strength for the Parisians. Matthieu Saunier then put the ball past his own goalkeeper to further increase the lead (0-7, 58'). We could have expected a relatively calm end to the game, but the Parisians decided otherwise. Cavani scored his second (0-8, 75') while Ibrahimovic took his tally to 27 goals in the league thanks to Pastore’s assist (0-9, 88'). It was a stunning display of football that was unparalleled in the modern history of Ligue 1, making it one of the most memorable matches in the last decade in France. At the end of this exceptional match, Paris were crowned French champions for the 6th time in their history!
two CLUBS, one player: BLAISE MATUIDI
Born in Toulouse in 1987, Blaise Matuidi joined the Troyes youth team in 2003 before starting his professional career at ESTAC, then in Ligue 2, a few months later, when he was only 17 years old, helping his side to promotion. Despite his young age, the French midfielder immediately established himself as an essential part of the Troyes team. Jean-Marc Furlan, then head coach of the Auvergne club, already saw in him a future great: "A coach can only know three or four players of the quality of Blaise Matuidi in his career. That's all." At the end of a promising season, the Troyes midfielder had a third and final season in Aube: confirming his talent.
After a four-season stopover in Forez with AS Saint-Étienne, Blaise Matuidi joined the club from the capital on 25 July 2011. Under the Parisian colours, the French international made 295 appearances in 6 seasons. With Paris Saint-Germain, the number 14 had a successful career, as he won 5 French league titles (2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2018) as well as 4 Coupe de la Ligue (2014, 2015, 2016, 2017). But that's not all: his record in Rouge et Bleu also extends to 3 Coupe de France (2015, 2016, 2017) and 5 Trophées des Champions (2013, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018).
After winning the holy grail with the French national team at the World Cup in Russia in the summer of 2018, Blaise Matuidi left Paris and France to join Juventus FC. Following his departure from the club, President Nasser Al-Khelaïfi said: "I will have excellent memories of Blaise's six seasons with us. He is a player who played every match with great commitment and a constant desire to win everything, earning everyone's admiration. Blaise will remain in our hearts and he will always be welcome in the great Paris Saint-Germain family."