Stade de Reims: Out Of The Shadows?

90 miles north from the hustle and bustle of Paris, Reims has its own vibrancy. Established around the picturesque Notre Dame de Reims, the city’s famous Fêtes Johanniques has sadly been the only form of entertainment for a population of over 180,000 since the 60’s, when their football team Stade de Reims were French champions twice in three years…

REVE DE COULEURS: The stained glass of the Cathedral shining beautifully in the night sky.

Now they are back. Relegated to Ligue 2 in 2016, they have finally returned to the top flight two years later and under the master stewardship of David Guion, they look surprisingly menacing. Guion doesn’t have much in his managerial resumé, being a part of the Reims backroom staff since 2012 after quite a mediocre playing career, bouncing anywhere from the Ligue 1 to the 5th tier of French football. But David is proving that you don’t need to have a fluttering career to make it as a manager…

An opening day trip to the French Riviera saw Guion outsmart Patrick Vieira’s OGC Nice and come away with a 1-0 win. Moussa Doumbia’s bullet from 25 yards out after just two minutes proved to be enough. He may have won the game but the plaudits have to go to the Reims’ back four. The centre-back partnership of Moroccan Yanis Abdelhamid and summer signing Thomas Fontaine were pivotal in quashing any goalscoring opportunities.

JOY: After one goal in two years, Moussa Doumbia got off to a flying start.

This newfound partnership will work once again, in their second game, at home to Olympique Lyonnais

It’s fair to say that Reims never expected to dominate possession. 33% in 90 mins but as they say, “it is only the result that matters”. A bit of quality from left back Ghislain Konan was all it took. He picked out Argentinian veteran Pablo Chavarría free in the box. Chavarría made no mistake and found the corner with his header.

1-0: Could Stade de Reims be the new Atlético Madrid?

Once again, the Stade de Reims’ defence stood a very stern test from the extraordinarily talented Lyon attack. Memphis Depay and Bertrand Traoré struggled against the rugged efforts of Konan and Reims old boy Romain Métanire. Another incredible performance.

A packed out Stade Auguste Delaune erupted at full-time and rightly so. A start inconceivable to many at the beginning of the season had become a reality. Two wins out of two. It may be a little farfetched to dream that Reims will outdo PSG at the Parc des Princes, but they have certainly made a start.

The sleeping giant that once tussled with the lights of Alfredo di Stefano and Real Madrid in the 50s and 60s has finally awoken and are ready to claim a few scalps…



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