Coupe de France: CA Bastia v Niort
These two teams actually met less than a fortnight ago in the Ligue, and on that occasion Niort travelled to Corsica and claimed an emphatic 3-0 away win, in a very impressive victory for Les Chamois. Of course, it was a success which many people expected to happen anyway, simply because CA Bastia have been so bad this season. It’s been a complete nightmare for the Corsicans since they obtained promotion – they’ve won just 2 games, scored a measly 9 goals and lost a whopping 12 times. However, there is some room for optimism. On Friday night they claimed a shock 1-0 success away against high flying Nancy, and they played really well in that fixture.
It was presumed that CA Bastia would just throw in the towel and accept their inevitable relegation. But they’ve signed four new players in the winter transfer window so far, all of whom definitely add something to the squad. Their most exciting addition is Nigerian international midfielder Sunday Mba who scored the winning goal in last year African Nations Cup final. It was a big surprise CA Bastia managed to obtain him. They also acquired striker Jonathan Rivas from Chateauroux, a fairly unknown player of whom not much was expected; he performed magnificently on Friday night and was arguably the key to them beating Nancy, his pace especially caused loads of problems. Suddenly there’s some hope for CA Bastia and they’ll target this Coupe de France fixture as a chance to continue their momentum.
Niort are usually renowned for being negative and defensive, but it seems like they’ve turned over a new leaf in 2014. They scored four against Epinal in the Coupe de France and then followed that up with the aforementioned 3-0 win against CA Bastia. Their goalscoring run continued thanks to a 3-2 win against local rivals Tours on Friday night. Niort are clearly a confident side at the moment and will likely come here with aggressive intent. The squad is in good condition too and they only have one injury to worry about – centre back Eric Chelle.
If CA Bastia can kick on from their win against Nancy, and also learn from the mistakes they made facing Niort the first time, they should be more competitive in this fixture. Once again, the match will be played at Le Stade Furiani, home of CA Bastia’s more illustrious neighbours SC Bastia. This doesn’t really suit them because they don’t have many fans and the stadium is often deserted, creating a terrible atmosphere. I’m not expecting this match to be a classic and the result is actually fairly unpredictable. Both sides should ‘go for it though’ because on paper the Coupe de France is likely to be their main priority competition.