first team / 2008

February: duel at the summit of Europe

Published on the 24 December 2008 à 11:56 by RD

The month of February is a special one for football. It’s at that time that the athletes really start feeling the weight of the start of the final run in. The rhythm becomes infernal, with the big clubs making their entry into the different National cup competitions.

The month of February is a special one for football. It’s at that time that the athletes really start feeling the weight of the start of the final run in. The rhythm becomes infernal, with the big clubs making their entry into the different National cup competitions. At the same time, February is the month that brings Europe into the heart of football. The Champions League makes for great viewing as of February with the 16 best teams in Europe doing battle in epic encounters. In February 2008, OL, after a catastrophic start to their group phase and a finish that went down to the wire, managed to end up second in their group behind FC Barcelona. They would because of this be up against a big club for their last 16 game. In the end they drew a giant, Manchester United, an old hand in European competition that OL would have to get by if they wanted to continue their adventure. An opponent that, we did not know at the time, would finish Champions of Europe in May 2008.
[IMG43591#R] OL took on Manchester in the first leg at Gerland on the 20th of February. Benzema opened the scoring with a superb shot from 16 metres out (55th minute). At that moment, the entire stadium, the whole town started to believe. But it was without counting on the experience of this great side who did not give up, kept on pushing and finally equalised through Tevez just 3 minutes before the final whistle (87’) and left OL with a great deal of regrets. They would have to pull of an exploit by scoring at least one goal at Old Trafford at the start of March.

At an international level, Egypt won the 26th edition of the African Nations Cup in Ghana, by beating one of the eternal favourites, Cameroon (1-0). Even if this competition took place on the other side of the Mediterranean, on another continent, it was of great importance to French football. Effectively, with the number of African players in the Ligue 1 (and Ligue 2), the month of February can be fatal to French clubs who have to release their players for international duty [IMG43592#L]. Often the team’s form slips as their best players are no longer available. The « ANC » is not something that pleases the managers of Ligue 1 clubs.
On the 18th of February, Egypt beat Cameroon in the final at Accra and take home their 6th ANC. The « Pharaohs » are not the most reputed side away from the African continent but, took home their second trophy in 3 years.

In February 2008, there was another important event, that of the marriage of the President Nicolas Sarkozy to the former model and singer Carla Bruni. More than the “showbiz” aspect of the event, it was the unique and exceptional characteristic of the marriage of the President of the French 5th Republic during his term of office which surprised people. Beforehand, only Gaston Domergue, President during the 3rd Republic from 1924 - 1931, married Jeanne Gaussal, on the 1st of June 1931, just days before the end of his term of office. Carla Bruni thus became France’s First Lady.
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