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  • Billy Wooldridge

Bordeaux Held To Stalemate Draw Against Saint Etienne To Slow Down Promotion Hopes-In Colour

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

Bordeaux and Saint Etienne line up at the Matmut Atlantique moments before kick-off. Photograph: Billy Wooldridge

Note to self; a French hangover certainly isn’t the nicest. That’s all I was saying to myself as we were wading our way down to the Radisson Blu hotel at 11am to pick up five tickets to Bordeaux’s home clash against Saint Etienne.

Top scorer Josh Maja was sitting in the hotel reception as we found our way through the front doors. “You’re looking worse for wear Bill” … “don’t even ask” was my simple three-word response. 11 goals and three assists in 25 league matches has put Maja at the top of the French goalscoring charts, as Bordeaux sit second in Ligue 2. Yet the star man is still happy to provide front row seats to a group of university students on a beer drinking, sight-seeing weekend away.

Rounding the corner to the Matmut Atlantique, the 40,000-capacity stadium was shining beautifully on what felt like an early summers days in the North of France’s wine capital. Built in 2015, the modern build looked the perfect home for a French first division side, however after recent financial difficulties for Bordeaux, the side faced relegation last season, dropping into the second division.

Bordeaux's Matmut Atlantique, built from 2012 to 2015. Photograph: Billy Wooldridge

You wonder how a team like with a stadium of this side have struggled so much over recent years, however the fans around the ground were just as buoyant as a Ligue 1 side. Constant noise and flares going off wherever you looked, for a 14:00 kick off time, the French certainly know how to liven up what can sometimes be quite a stale early match.

Saint-Etienne too have also gone through their fair share of difficulties, finishing fourth in Ligue 1 only in 2019, before relegation alongside Bordeaux last season. It wasn’t a surprise to see the two sets of fans blending in so perfectly, both going from first division heroics to dismal relegations in the space of just a few years.

The game itself was much more of a stalemate then the noisy fans before, during and after the game. After an uneventful first-half, Bordeaux’s Aliou Badji struck first just 60 seconds into the second half after a lovely through ball by Dilane Bakwa was finished off past the oncoming Gautier Larsonneur in the Saint-Etienne net.

Ticket donator Maja had a quiet game and was subbed off in the 78th minute for defender Clement Michelin to help the home side see out the game. Michelin however didn’t seem to quite understand the task of “help the team and don’t do anything rash”, as just three minutes later, the Frenchmen took down Jean-Phillippe Krasso in the striker’s area, a blatant penalty.

The Ivory Coast international finished from the spot as easy as anything, ending the game all square, a result the home side will certainly have regretted, letting third place Sochaux move just a point off second.

The disappointing end didn’t hush the fans around the ground on the walk back into the city centre however, who seemed to have voices as strong as anything. It was quite evident to see that if Bordeaux can make it back into the first division of French football, they owe a lot to their constant support who seem to be getting the south France side through many a dull performance.

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