“Now it’s for real … we’re back,” Mbappe tweeted before kick-off against Le Havre. The exhibition match in the port city of Normandy was the first meeting in front of fans to present one of the elite European clubs since the start of the epidemic.
Only 5,000 people were allowed to enter the 25,000-seat Stade Océane in Le Havre to see the Ligue 2 club face the PSG team, with Neymar and Mbappe in the starting XI.
PSG showed little mercy on the pitch with Mauro Icardi and Neymar both scoring twice. This rare sound of real fans bursting under the applause of their team’s score was heard nine times while PSG beat Le Havre 9-0.
The upper floors of the seats were empty. Spectators had to wear face masks to enter the arena, although many then removed them when installed in their seats. Families and friends gathered in groups, but the groups remained separate. The bullets wore masks and gloves. Loudspeakers broadcast calls for social distancing. Photographers in the field were forced to walk with their shoes in disinfectant bins.
“This is a victory for French football, sport in general,” said outgoing Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu who was there. “I am delighted that football in France can resume in a popular way, with more people in the stadiums. It is the only country in Western Europe that can do this. ”
Unlike Germany, England, Italy and Spain, France abandoned its championship season in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, but when the other four countries resumed their leagues, they did so at behind closed doors.
Neymar and Icardi each scored twice and Mbappe once before PSG made 10 changes leading 5-0 at halftime. Pablo Sarabia, with two, Idrissa Gueye and Arnaud Kalimuendo scored in the first 15 minutes of the second half to complete the rout as PSG started to heat up for a few weeks in late July and early August .
PSG should face Saint-Etienne in the French Cup final on July 24 and Lyon in the French League Cup final on July 31 before resuming their Champions League campaign at Atalanta on August 12.
The two French finals will take place at the 80,000-seat Stade de France in Paris.
Maracineanu said the attendance limit would be revised on July 18 and would consider adjusting it to be proportional to the size of the stadium.
Posted in Dawn, July 14, 2020