Coupe de France 2017 32emes – Saturday Part I
After last night’s aperitif, featuring two mild cupsets as Les Herbiers and Avranches both saw off Ligue 2 opponents, and one par-for-the-course win for Monaco, we move on to the first course of this year’s Coupe de France Round of 64 this afternoon. There are ten ties, featuring teams from the top six tiers of France’s footballing pyramid from Ligue 1 to the Division d’Honneur – including a local derby, Ligue 1 vs a Reunion-based side, and John Nettles!
Strasbourg (L2) vs Epinal (Nat)
The 32èmes this year sees an Alsace-Lorraine derby between high-flying and resurgent Strasbourg (fourth in Ligue 2 following last year’s promotion) and struggling Epinal (second-bottom in the National). The Spinaliens, looking for some Coupe cheer to spark their season, will likely line up with two Metz loanees (Oumar Gonzalez and Hamza Sakhi) in their ranks, and warmed up with a narrow 1-0 friendly defeat to Metz in midweek.
Sarreguemines (CFA2) vs Reims (L2)
One of last year’s heroes, CFA2’s Sarreguemines, face second tier opposition again, after beating Ligue 2 Valenciennes for the second straight year, in the last round. Hassan M’Barki, who followed up last year’s heroics with the match-winning double against VAFC will face sterner opposition in the form of Reims, who are second in Ligue 2 and won their opening Coupe de France tie 7-0 (with a hat-trick for Jordan Siebatcheu).
Lunéville (CFA2) vs Chambly (Nat)
FC Chambly, currently fourth in the National, take a break from their promotion campaign to travel to CFA2 club Lunéville, who are at this stage of the Coupe for the first time since 1988. Their players had been hoping for a tie against Ligue 1 or 2 opposition and didn’t hide their disappointment when the draw was made. Chambly, founded, run and coached by the Luzi family, who have changed the club’s kit to mirror that of their beloved Internazionale, will look to ensure Lunéville don’t get Inter the next round……………
Prix-lès-Mézières (CFA2) vs Entente Feignies-Aulnoye (CFA2)
The most exotically titled tie of the round goes to this clash between two CFA2 sides who will see this as a great chance for progress and their moment in the sun. The home side sit an impressive second in their CFA2 group, after being promoted as champions of their Division d’Honneur at the end of last season. The visitors, who travel from the Belgian border, are in their first season in their current guise, SC Feignies merging with AS Aulnoyes-Aymeries in the summer.
Lille (L1) vs Excelsior Saint-Joseph (DH Réunion)
The Reunion side make their near 9,500km trip to the mainland to face a Lille team heading into a period of transition. With the sale of the club to Gerard Lopez almost complete and rumours of Marcelo Bielsa and significant investment, there are reasons for Lille fans to be optimistic and they’ll want to start the year in the best possible fashion.
Despite the distance between the two clubs, there is a common link in Dimitri Payet with the West Ham midfielder turning out for his local side before heading to Nantes, Saint-Etienne, Marseille and of course Lille. Les Tangos are enjoying a fine run in the tournament, the furthest they have reached and have already seen off two higher ranked sides. Sadly, it appears fairly certain that their run will come to an end on Saturday afternoon.
Bergerac (CFA) vs Toulouse Rodéo (CFA2)
Evoking images of a Jersey-based detective taking on French cowboys, this clash sees CFA Group A leaders Bergerac Perigord host a club one level further down. Rodéo are at this stage for the second straight year – 2015/16 a great year for the visitors, as they also won promotion from the Division d’Honneur. The underdog status will suit the team, who struggled past lower-league opposition to get to this stage. Bergerac, however, cruised past another CFA2 team, SC Balma, in the last round, and will expect to repeat the feat here.
Sainte-Geneviève Sports (CFA2) vs SM Caen (L1)
An intriguing clash here between a team flying high in the fifth tier and one struggling in the first. Sainte-Geneviève, based just south of Paris, are second in their CFA2 group and have a 100% home record this season. Caen, by contrast, are yet to win away from home this term, gleaning only one point in total. Considering the large gap between the two sides, one would expect Caen to pull through. But the hosts are oozing confidence at their Parc des Sports Léo Lagrange home – and it was Sainte Geneviève’s feast day only this week. Omen?
Le Poiré-sur-Vie (DH) – Viry-Châtillon (CFA)
Le Poiré-sur-Vie might be in the sixth tier, but to say they have cup previous would be an understatement – this is their fifth appearance post-Christmas, the first being in 2008, and they’ve progressed three times so far, their best being to reach the huitiemes in 2015, when they were beaten by Auxerre on penalties. After four years in National, that season they voluntarily dropped down to CFA2 (the division their reserves played in) citing the administrative, regulatory and financial burden of competing à minima, only to stay up. The Genies will be hoping for a little magic to bring back that great record – they have already knocked out one CFA team (Chateaubriant Voltigeurs) so far, in round six.
Viry-Chatillon, meanwhile, beat National side Belfort in the last round after extra time, and haven’t reached this stage since 2008. The lower-ranked side therefore has more and more recent experience of a cup run, and a home win would not be too big a surprise.
Blagnac (DH) – Niort (L2)
Blagnac have already seen off several higher-placed teams, most impressively beating Red Star in the last round with a goal after three minutes from Dorian Stantisteva, so will not be intimidated by facing another Ligue 2 side. The Caouecs have reached this stage twice before, in 1999 and 2009, both times knocked out by top-flight opposition, so will be hoping to go one better this time. The auguries could be a lot worse – Niort are 11th in Ligue 2, looking comfortably ensconced in not-going-to-do-anything-dramatic territory, and needed penalties to beat CFA2 side Anglet Genets in the last round after a 0-0 draw. Blagnac have momentum, therefore, but will need a little bit of magic as well to pull off a result here.
Hauts Lyonnais (DH) – CA Bastia (Nat)
Another sixth-tier side fancying their chances will be Hauts Lyonnais who have beaten teams from CFA and CFA2 already. A relatively new team, formed in 2012 from a merger of three neighbouring clubs, this is the first time they are through to the post-Christmas stage of the cup, and the excitement is palpable. This is a big ask, however, as they scored just one goal in the last two games, so needed penalties (the shootout ended 2-1, which also doesn’t bode well) to get to this point.
Mid-table in National, CA Bastia have some cup previous, making it to the huitiemes in 2013/14 when they were beaten by Angers. They haven’t made things look easy this time, having already gone through a penalty shoot-out and a narrow win against lower-ranked clubs before a more a routine-looking 2-0 win over DH side Frontignan last round. If they take this seriously, however, an away win seems the likely result.