Coupe de France Preview: Nimes Olympique v AS Monaco
The last time Monaco went to le Stade de Costieres they came away with a late winner and promotion back to Ligue 1 following their two seasons’ purgatory in Ligue 2, to go with their large injection of cash. Ibrahima Touré’s 94th minute header was the only goal of the game that sent the 472 away Monaco fans wild.
Monaco’s upward trajectory continued into last season with a second place finish and Champions League qualification on the back of an expensive overhaul of the squad. Last season’s Coupe de France campaign ended with a semi final defeat to eventual winners Guingamp. A summer of departures saw James Rodriguez, Radamel Falcao and gaffer Claudio Ranieiri leave the principality.
Nimes, meanwhile, staved off the threat of relegation, finishing 15th in Ligue 2. The club has had to deal with serious allegations of match fixing that led to the Nimes president resigning. This has inevitably left a cloud hanging over the club and they sit uncomfortably over the relegation zone. Yet, they have done better in the Cup than last season where they were beaten and eliminated by Dijon at the first time of asking.
So far this season they have defeated Auch Football after extra time and overcame US Marseille Endoume Catalans 2-1. Nimes have participated in three Coupe de France finals (1958,1961 and 1996) in their history without lifting the trophy. They became the first team to reach the final from below what is now Ligue 2 when they played and lost to Auxerre in 1996 which gave Guy Roux’s side the league and cup double. Nimes share with RC Lens the rather dubious distinction of having played the most number of finals without having won the cup.
Monaco do have history in that respect, winning the competition five times, albeit the most recent win coming back in 1991. They were defeated in 2010 by an extra time PSG winner in their most recent appearance in the final.
One player who will come up against one of his former employers is Toifilou Maoulida who was at Monaco for the 2005-06 season. He is Nimes’ top scorer with five goals in the league. That is the same number as Monaco’s top marksman, Dimitar Berbatov.
While Monaco have lost a certain amount of stardust within their ranks, there is still a large amount of quality in the side’s core and the side has been quietly rising up the league table following a turbulent beginning to the season. The cup competitions represent Monaco’s best chance of silverware for Leandro Jardim’s team, who will have their work cut out against a Nimes side keen to put to one side their league struggles.