Preview: Coupe de France Last 32 – Day Four
Another day another tie in the week-long Coupe de France Round of 32. Just one match tonight, as Ligue 1 meets Ligue 2 for a place in the final 16.
Saint-Etienne vs AC Ajaccio – 20.00 GMT by @meatmansoccer
There’s an old saying about buses. You wait ages for one, then loads turn up at once. That is certainly the case for Saint-Etienne in terms of home wins against their arch rivals Lyon. Last season’s success was the first against OL at le Stade Geoffroy Guichard in 20 years. They then followed it up with a tight 1-0 success on Sunday night. So les Verts will be heading into this cup match on a real high after receiving a much needed boost. Sainte have been saved by their ten wins and a lack of draws this year. Christophe Galtier’s men have lost a whopping nine times though as they’ve struggled to juggle both Ligue 1 and European matches.
Still, they are fifth in the table, still involved in the Europa League and would consider themselves among the favourites in the Coupe de France, especially considering this favourable draw. New signing from Norwegian club Rosenborg Alexander Soderlund became an instant hero with his debut home goal on Sunday. The early signs from him have been encouraging, which is good news because Sainte lack a bit of firepower upfront, especially considering Robert Beric’s season-ending injury. There’s a chance the hosts might not be fully focused here after their derby win, added to the fact that this draw is not considered to be a ‘banana skin’ as they are in front of their own fans.
For Ajaccio, it’s mostly been a poor league campaign. For the majority of the season they’ve been languishing towards the bottom of the table, often inside the relegation zone. Now finally for the first time in a while, the Corsicans have moved out of that zone rouge. There was plenty of pressure on coach Olivier Pantaloni a few months ago, but a gradual improvement in results has contributed to them moving out of trouble. Just one loss in eight games has restored some confidence, and their victory last Friday night at Evian was their first on the road in Ligue 2 for nearly a whole calendar year!
In general, les Ours are an appalling away team though and desperately struggle on their travels. Pantaloni would no doubt prefer this fixture to be back at home in Corsica. The fundamental problem ACA have is a lack of quality. It’s hard to believe they were a Ligue 1 club only a couple of years ago. There are very few players in their squad who could be seen as promising or talented. Playmaker Johan Cavalli is one of their most recognisable figures. A passionate, committed and determined individual, he was one of the few who stood out for them at Ligue 1 level. But he turns 35 later this year and is no spring chicken anymore. Ajaccio will no doubt fight extremely hard in this cup match, but if they were to win on the road it would be a real shock.