Preview: Troyes vs Saint-Etienne – Coupe de France
The early triple-header on Wednesday sees les Verts visiting the lanterne rouge. Troyes are bottom of the table with 11 points, 16 away from safety, and have recently sacked manager Claude Robin after less than two months in charge; he took over in early December from Jean-Marc Furlan who got them promoted as Ligue 2 Champions last season.
Given ESTAC’s situation, a transfer window fire-sale was perhaps to be expected, but losing both first-choice league keepers (Denis Petric to Angers and Paul Bernardoni to Bordeaux on loan) was maybe not the best idea. Midfielder Jimmy Cabot also left for Lorient, after playing a key role in Troyes’ only win in the league so far, scoring two in the 3-1 victory in Lille.
So, cup keeper Matthieu Dreyer is now the only option in the relegation battle as well – and getting to this point they needed extra time to see off National team Dunkerque 4-3 before beating CFA’s Concarneau 3-1 in the 16emes. His first league posting was in the 4-0 loss to Guingamp in game 24 (Guingamp only scoring that heavily against DH side Chantilly in an earlier round of the cup) followed by a 2-0 defeat at Bastia at the weekend in a game where ESTAC also had two men sent off (Perea Vargas and Fabien Camus), which will cause an additional headache for whoever is picking the team.
In their cup run, Saint-Etienne needed penalties to send out CFA2 side Raon L’Etape and then extra time – and a 120th minute goal from Benjamin Corgnet – to beat Ligue 2’s AC Ajaccio last time out. Christophe Galtier had a slight meltdown after that result and drawing away at Reims in the league in their next game didn’t help matters, but they look in much better form now, most recently beating Bordeaux away 4-1 to go fourth, behind Nice only on goal difference. Alexander Soderlund and Nolan Roux both scored, which will hopefully improve confidence, and new recruit Oussama Tannane scored and got an assist in his first start for the club, bringing some welcome creativity.
Les Verts have a tough match in the league on Sunday as Monaco come to visit, but they are understandable favourites to win this. The romantic narrative would be for Troyes to go on a cup run ‘pour sauver l’honneur‘, but it’s very difficult to see how that could happen; they’re managerless, with limited squad options, rarely score (although when they do, they tend to be impressive) and have only kept three clean sheets all season, shipping 51 league goals in the process. While Saint-Etienne’s high-scoring victory at the weekend was significantly enabled by Bordeaux’s defence having a bad day, Troyes’ is unlikely to have a better one; maybe stranger things have happened, but this one looks set to follow the form-book.