PAOK-OM – Marseille plays at La Toumba on Thursday in the Europa Conference League: “It can quickly overflow”

I hope that Marseille will be received as we have been received here. Your supporters better not come“. After the threats of Razvan Lucescu, the coach of PAOK Salonika, last Thursday at the Vélodrome (note: which repeated the case at a press conference on Wednesday), the players of Jorge Sampaoli will play the quarter-final second leg of the Europa League Conference at the Stade de la Toumba An ultra-hot enclosure that can accommodate some 28,000 supporters but which will not welcome Marseille supporters.regret“, OM preferred to follow the recommendations of the Greek authorities.
Security requires, bans on the movement of opposing supporters have become commonplace in Greece. A rule already in force at the beginning of the last decade when Sidney Govou, Djibril Cissé or Jean-Alain Boumsong wore the Panathinaikos jersey. An ultimately logical decision in view of the balance sheet left by the arrival of PAOK ultras in Marseille: two days under tension, smoke bombs in shambles, explosions of agricultural bombs, seats of the Vélodrome torn off, 30 police officers injured and 10 arrests (note: including 3 Marseilles ).

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When we play at La Toumba, the stadium is always full two hours before the start of the match. You feel like you’re playing a World Cup finaltells us Youssef El-Arabi, the striker of Olympiakos. As soon as you warm up, they like to put pressure on you. In matches, they whistle you to the point where you can’t hear the referee’s whistles and throw smoke bombs. Frankly, it’s wonderful to live in, it’s a very, very nice atmosphere. Afterwards, there are sometimes incidents and that kills the charm a little.

Passed by the Greek championship between 2015 and 2017, Anthony Le Tallec is not ready to forget Toumba, where he had found the net during the victory of Atromitos in the championship in November 2016 (4-3). “It’s a special atmosphereunderlines the former Le Havre. After the first leg, the Marseillais will have no surprises on how they will be received. In the stands, there are a lot of fights. When I played in Greece, the championship was often stopped because of that. Along with Olympiakos, Panathinaikos and AEK, PAOK’s stadium is among the hottest in Greece.”

The ultras of PAOK Salonika during the trip to Marseille.

Credit: Imago

There will be bullying and corners won’t always be easy to take

Sidney Govou, Canal+ consultant, makes a similar assessment after his only season in the Greek Super League (2010-2011). “It is to be hoped that in terms of security, UEFA will do the right thing and the club too. These are dangerous places, it can quickly overflow because the Greek supporters are excessiveentrusts us the vice-world champion. The stands are close to the field and it seems that the ultras can quickly access them. Although it’s impressive, there will be intimidation and corners won’t always be easy to take, I don’t think players can fear for their integrity..”

The seven-time French champion with OL is clear: the enthusiasm for stadiums in Greece is unique. “It’s beyond passion and it really concerns all clubsnotes Sidney Govou, while pointing “racism in the stadiums when I played there“. I lived very, very complicated moments with invasions of the field without there being any post-match overflows either. You feel that it can go very quickly. I think football is even hotter in Greece than in Turkey. I played against Turkish clubs in the European Cup, and I saw less hatred in people’s eyes.”

An atmosphere that is therefore “incomparable” with the Vélodrome’s enthusiasm for an “Olympico” or a Saint-Etienne – Lyon derby. Excessive love can sometimes go very far. “The day before a match against Olympiakos, around 3,000 bikers had come to Djibril’s (Cissé) with smoke bombs to encourage himsays Sidney Govou. We lived next door, and then they came in front of my house blocking traffic. ” The Marseillais are warned: the PAOK will play at twelve on Thursday evening.

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