Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 28 December 2014

Football: Portuguese ace is out to ruffle Derry's feathers

"Clip the eagle's wings !" - That must be the watchword of Derry City manger Stephen Kenny as his side prepare to face Paris St-Germain on Thursday at the Brandywell in the biggest European game in the club's history.

"Clip the eagle's wings !" - That must be the watchword of Derry City manger Stephen Kenny as his side prepare to face Paris St-Germain on Thursday at the Brandywell in the biggest European game in the club's history.

The key man for the glitzy team from the French capital is club captain and ace striker Pedro Pauleta - the 33 year old Portuguese frontman is nicknamed the "Eagle of the Azores" because of his goal famous goal celebration when he imitates the flight of the bird from his native mid-Atlantic island.

That sight is one the Derry players and fans will hope not to see on Thursday as the 6' marksman looks to add to his impressive goal tally.

Just a couple of weeks ago Pauleta became the highest scoring player in the top French League when he hit a couple of goals in his side's 3-2 defeat at Sochaux - he has now notched up 121 goals in 210 games.

He is also record goalscorer for the Portuguese national side, with 47 goals - six more than the great Eusebio - but following last summer's World Cup in Germany he has now retired from international football to concentrate on the club game.

So the Derry backline must watch for Pauleta's deadly right foot.

Last season he hit 14 goals with his right peg, two with his left and five with his head.

That tally made him top scorer in the French Championship with 21 goals, almost half the team's total of 44 as they finished a disappointing ninth in the League.

The bright point in the season for the club which is the "Pride of Paris" was their Cup Final victory over deadly rivals Olympique Marseille by two goals to one last April.

Goalscorers in the victory in front of over 79,000 spectators in the Stade de France were international stars Vikash Dhorasoo of France and Bonaventure Kalou of the Ivory Coast.

They, along with new signing Pierre-Alain Frau from Lyon, will both be looking to aid Pauleta in the match at the Brandywell.

At the other end, the man the Derrymen have to beat is French international keeper Mickael Landreau, who has replaced the popular Lionel Letizi, now of course with Glasgow Rangers.

Paris St-Germain are a massive club - they play in the 48, 527 capacity Parc des Princes and their average attendance last season of was 40, 486.

Their annual budget is an incredible £48 million and they have a squad of 23 players of whom thirteen are full internationals - What a contrast with little Derry City!

And yet, PSG desperately need to do well against the eircom League side.

For after four games they are twelfth in the table, with one win, one draw and two defeats.

Coach Guy Lacombe - appointed last December - is already under pressure and is looking for a morale boost with a good run in the UEFA Cup.

Adding to the pressure on the team is the fact that this evening (8pm BST) they face a huge test when they are at home to Olympique Marseille, who are presently leading the table along with champions Lyon.

In their last League game in Paris, Marseille humiliated their hosts when they sent their reserve team and held them to a 0-0 draw just two months before the Cup Final.

With names like Dominique Rocheteau, David Ginola, George Weah, Youri Djorkaeff, Nicolas Anelka and Ronaldinho on their list of former players, the former winners of the Cup Winners Cup in 1996, twice French League Champions and seven times Cup winners have tradition as well.

But maybe, just maybe, they might, like Gothenburg and Gretna, find the men from the Maiden City a hot handful on Thursday night!

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