Coupe de France Preview – US Concarneau v Chamois Niortais

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After impressing last season by finishing fifth place in Ligue 2’s overall standings, Chamois Niortais have had a somewhat more complicated 2014/15 league campaign. The departures of both their influential defender Nicolas Pallois and their free-scoring loanee Emiliano Sala to Girondins de Bordeaux has had a marked impact on Régis Brouard’s side, with inconsistency being Les Niortais’ main hindrance when it comes to their league form.

However things have gone according to plan so far in the Coupe de France, with the men from Deux-Sèvres eliminating Poitou-Charentes rivals Chauvigny and Saint-Jean d’Anglet. A trip to Brittany to face CFA outfit US Concarneau on Saturday evening now awaits Niort.

With the exception of their uncharacteristically heavy home defeat to Nancy in November, Niort have maintained solidity in terms of their defensive game. Yoann Barbet, a summer signing from Bordeaux, and the uncompromising Frédéric Bong have formed a good centre-back partnership and long-term Chamois goalkeeper Paul Delecroix has similarly been in good form this season, so scoring won’t be the easiest of tasks for the home side. Brouard’s side are well disciplined in their 4-5-1 set-up, but left-winger Florian Martin and right-back Kévin Malcuit, by far and away Niort’s most impressive two players, both possess great offensive abilities and they will be on hand to provide the lone frontman, most probably Seydou Koné, with service.

US Concarneau, a side managed by former Lorient midfielder Nicolas Cloarec, will be hoping to build upon their strong league form in the CFA Group D section of France’s fourth tier. Les Thorniers are sitting in third place, having recorded an impressive 4-1 away win against Lorient’s B side, as well as picking up four home points against Nantes’ reserves outfit with a 1-0 victory over the league leaders in December.

Concarneau are on good form and they will be hoping that their home advantage at the Stade Kérampéru, coupled with Niort’s disappointing away form this season, will be the perfect recipe for a Coupe de France shock. The home side’s main goal threat this season has been their midfielder Christophe Gourmelon who has been on the scoresheet five times during his side’s current league campaign, and Gourmelon and his teammates will be keen to make headlines again with a win against their Ligue 2 opponents.

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