Thursday 16 February, 2017, two days after Paris’ virtuoso performance against Barcelona (4-0), Bibard extended a warm welcome to Papin close to where he lives in Boulogne-Billancourt. In spite of their previous meetings, often tinged with more than a hint of animosity, the reunion is a warm one. After reminiscing over certain incidents, notably Bibard’s famous whistle-blowing (see the video), the two men looked ahead to the Classico.
For Papin, the scenario is clear: “Paris will come to the Vélodrome to get three points. But it’s a special game, a difficult match. The stadium will be full, the Marseillais will try to get something from it, but the talent is more on the Paris side, and when they start to play, they’re difficult to stop.”
Though Bibard agrees, he also had a warning for the Rouge-et-Bleu: “Even if I think Paris will get the points from this trip, they must be careful. Everything is possible in this kind of game, Marseille can create a surprise. So they have to watch out!”
In terms of individuals, Papin has a clear favourite: “I’m a real fan of Cavani. He’s a born striker who wears his number nine shirt well. I’m delighted with the season he’s having and I’m convinced he’ll beat records.” Bibard revealed a soft spot for the Belgian, Thomas Meunier, who plays in the same position he used to, while also acknowledging the return of Dimitri Payet to OM: “He’s an excellent player, notably when it comes to set-pieces. He’ll bring something extra, because he’s a very technical player who can also score goals.”
Though both men shied away from making a prediction, they were willing to state one thing: Paris have the advantage!