Saint-Étienne (France) (AFP) – Saint-Etienne believe they are capable of reversing a Europa League first leg deficit against Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Manchester United if they can add a dash of ‘madness’ to their game.
At 3-0 down from the Old Trafford first leg all scored by nemesis Ibrahimovic, few are betting on a French revival in Wednesday’s last 32 second leg at the club’s Geoffroy-Guichard stadium.
But club President Bernard Caïazzo told AFP in an exclusive interview that a win was possible “if we can inject a bit of madness” into the match.
“The result from the first leg was very heavy because we did not put away our chances and there was some odd refereeing going on, a bit like if Zlatan Ibrahimovic himself was the referee,” he said.
“But this time, unlike in the first leg where the players were a bit tense and made finishing errors, we have nothing to lose.”
“Football can offer incredible surprises,” he said. “Putting a bit of madness into our game means nothing is impossible.”
He said the team needs to rediscover the spirit of the 1974 European Cup, predecessor of the Champions League, when the side went 4-1 down to Hadjuk Split in the away leg and beat them 5-1 after extra time on home turf. Saint-Etienne went on to reach the semi-finals where they were beaten by eventual champions Bayern Munich.
Saint-Etienne striker Romain Hamouma said the side had to avoid an obsession with Ibrahimovic, the former Paris Saint-Germain star who has now scored 17 goals all told against Saint-Etienne.
“His record against us is exceptional,” he said “He is a great player but we cannot let ourselves become obsessed by one player alone.”
Saint-Etienne are still upset over the penalty awarded to Ibrahimovic in the closing minutes of the Manchester leg after he slumped to his knees in the box following a challenge from behind, allowing him to score his first hat-trick for United.
“As soon as the ‘great’ one falls, the referee feels he has to whistle,” added Hamouma.
He said that Saint-Etienne had found weaknesses in Manchester United but were not able to exploit them because of poor finishing.
“This time we have to make no mistake, and that will be the key.”
Coach Christophe Galtier said that if his players kept their cool the chances would come their way.
200+ Channels With Sports & News
- Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
- Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
- Price: $35/mo. for Sling Blue
- Watch Premier League, World Cup & MLS
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
- Price: $9.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
- Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
2,000+ soccer games per year
- Price: $4.99/mo
- Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
- Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
- Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
110+ channels, live & on-demand
- Price: $59.95/mo. for Plus Package
- Includes FOX, FS1, ESPN, TUDN & more
- Cristiano Ronaldo should have taken outrageous Saudi offer
- FIFA 23 needs to focus on things beyond Ted Lasso
- Barcelona VP says Messi return would be ‘possible financially’
- Brands hoping World Cup boosts Gen Z interest in soccer
- Hummel makes statement with World Cup kits for Denmark
- 3 reasons Arlington is not ideal host for 2026 World Cup final
- Richarlison racially abused in Brazil’s win over Tunisia
- Where to find Chelsea vs. West Ham on US TV
- USMNT staggers into World Cup following draw with Saudi Arabia
- 2026 World Cup Final will reportedly be in Arlington, Texas