“The Coupe de France is make or die,” summarizes Pierre Sage. Barely. This Saturday (9 p.m., on beIN SPORTS and France 2), at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve d’Ascq, there will be a winner and a loser, happy people and disappointed people. Miraculously moved up to sixth place in the Ligue 1 standings, the Lyonnais challenged PSG in the final. Time for the brave. The winner will succeed Toulouse on the list of the oldest competitions.

Which Lyonnais took two lessons against the Parisians in the championship, twice 1-4. “It’s a final, it’s different. We will only know (this Saturday) if we have learned from these matches,” says Alexandre Lacazette, captain of OL. “I was not dissatisfied with the offensive performance” during the return match, adds Pierre Sage. Trailing 4-1 at the break, their players had indeed raised their heads in the second half, without however influencing the scoreboard. This did not escape Luis Enrique. “They played and defended differently after the break,” he remembers, referring to Lyon being “dangerous with the ball and who can hurt any team. Besides, they had chances against us. So it will be a complicated final,” underlines the 53-year-old Spanish technician, referring to “top opponent” and swearing that the Rhone residents “will be in the fight for the championship title next season”.

A title which easily fell into Parisian hands this year, in addition to the Champions Trophy. This does not mean that PSG is not hungry. “The French Cup? This has been one of the objectives since the start of the season. We have already won two trophies, it would be perfect to end the season like that,” guesses Luis Enrique, promising that it is an “important moment”. It would not erase the disappointment against Dortmund in the Champions League, elimination without glory or scoring in the semi-finals, but it would allow us to go on vacation with peace of mind, without storms.

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All while allowing Kylian Mbappé to walk away with one last trophy. Seven years after his arrival and at the end of a final season that was special to say the least, the 2018 world champion will leave Paris, without a doubt for Real Madrid. Time for goodbyes. “Kylian has been a very important player for us all these years. This is his last match with us. That must be a special motivation for him. And for us also to see him play, score one last time with the PSG jersey, win one last title with him to celebrate this last match with him,” enthuses Marquinhos. Not called up for the last two Ligue 1 matches, the top scorer in the history of PSG (256 goals) will also be there. He is in the Parisian group. We could have doubted it at one point… Asked if he will play, Luis Enrique replied in the affirmative: “Of course”. Of which act.

Still, a Parisian success would be the train that arrives on time. Record holders of Coupe de France titles (14), the Rouge et Bleu have won more or less 80% of national trophies since the takeover of QSI in 2011. The fact that this Coupe de France has eluded Paris over the last two years “shows how difficult it is to win it, it’s up to us to do what it takes to win it back,” as Marquinhos says. Prudent, Luis Enrique notes that OL “is a team which is on a different dynamic compared to championship matches” and remembers that Lacazette and company won 20 of their 27 matches under Pierre Sage, appointed in November 2023 after the successive evictions of Laurent Blanc (September 2023) and Fabio Grosso (November 2023).

In the end, this meeting still offers a duel between the two best teams in the return phase of L1, Lyon (37 pts) ahead of PSG (36). Not enough to make President Textor’s men favorites. Enough so that the Parisians do not arrive with their heads full of flowers, they who have perhaps relaxed a little after obtaining the title in the championship and the elimination in C1. The Lyonnais will surf their exceptional wave, they who are “fairly liberated and confident in (their) qualities”, says Alexandre Lacazette. “How do we approach this match? GOOD. Being qualified for the Europa League takes a lot of pressure off,” adds the “General”, already at the club during Lyon’s last victory in the Coupe de France, in 2012. “I only have good memories. I have the opportunity to relive this feeling, even stronger, I am captain this time and Lyon has not won for a long time,” he salivates.

Less pressure knowing that qualification for the Europa League has already been achieved thanks to sixth place? Pierre Sage does not share the opinion of his favorite scorer. “You might think so, but the quest for a title remains the quest for a title. We are going to compete bravely for our chances,” he assures us, adding that he takes “this final as an extra football match”. Promised sworn ?

One thing is certain: Les Gones will count on their lucky star or their taste for turnarounds against PSG, they who have achieved some crazy ends to matches this season. “The irrational side must be kept,” smiles Pierre Sage. A side that capsized Lille… at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium (3-4), at the beginning of May. “It’s nice to come back here because we’ve had good memories there recently,” smiles Lacazette, admitting all the same that he would have “preferred to play at the Stade de France”, unavailable due to the Olympic Games. And continued: “It’s pretty crazy, our end of the match… I hope we don’t need an end to the match like that.” He and his teammates would nevertheless pay for an outcome similar to that of their last trip to Lille… “The players have earned my respect. We feel stronger than in December,” notes Sage. Enough to knock out the Parisian ogre?