Coupe de la Ligue Quarter-Finals – Wednesday: Bordeaux v Guingamp and PSG v Metz
The cup competition continues apace this mid-week with the second two quarterfinals of the Coupe de la Ligue. A suddenly resurgent Paris Saint-Germain are obviously favoured, but don’t rule out a scrappy Guingamp, either. The Breton side were seconds away from defeating Monaco in the season’s opening league match, and turned aside the Parisians handily in the first half’s penultimate matchday.
Girondins de Bordeaux v EA Guingamp, 18:45 CET
Bordeaux, despite bringing in several players over the summer (Jérémy Toulalan, Jérémy Menez, Francois Kamano) have seen a season full of the same inconsistency that plagued the team under Willy Sagnol. New manager Jocelyn Gourvennec has deployed bizarre tactics at times, especially in his use of his talented young attackers. Diego Rolan and Menez have frustrated but have yet to be dropped regularly, while Malcom, Kamano and Gaetan Laborde have had to make do with the odd cup match – and done well, Laborde getting a double in the 3-2 win over Nice in the last round.
On Sunday, however, Les Girondins turned in one of their better performances, operating in a 4-3-3 with the trio all starting. Clermont were resolute, but the pace of the front three was integral in stretching the hosts’ defense and could offer a way forward, with a cup run raising the team’s fragile confidence.
The hosts may get their way, as Guingamp, enjoying the most surprising season this side of Nice, will want to focus on the league. European football remains a very real possibility for the visitors, currently fifth in Ligue 1. The team have played well in attack and defense, but after playing what amounted to a first choice side on Saturday in beating Le Havre, manager Antoine Kombouaré will likely ring the changes tomorrow, with the likes of Alexandre Mendy, Ludovic Blas and Fousseni Diabaté among those in contention. Add in a derby trip to Lorient at the weekend, and Guingamp’s priorities are clear. It will be down to Bordeaux to take advantage, though, as even a rotated EAG side can be dangerous, as Lyon found out last month in this competition.
Paris Saint-Germain v FC Metz, 21:05 CET
The Parisian media have been salivating of late over the champions, and with good reason. A 5-0 thumping of Lorient before Christmas was followed by beating Bastia 7-0 at the weekend in the Coupe de France, including a goal for new man Julian Draxler. Youngster Christopher N’Kunku, showing his versatility by starting on the left wing before moving into central midfield, continues his development apace, and Adrien Rabiot has returned from injury looking as sublime as ever.
Against the Corsicans, Marco Verratti didn’t feature and neither did Edinson Cavani, underscoring the importance of this competition for Unai Emery in a tumultuous season. At home and eager to keep their good form ahead of the league’s return, Paris Saint-Germain should cruise.
Metz, on the other hand, could do without a match against an opponent of this caliber. Humbled against ten-man Lens in a quasi-derby in the Cup at the weekend, Les Grenats were already struggling for form, winless in the league since beating Toulouse in Week 13. The club were granted a replay, albeit behind closed doors, against Lyon, but were also docked two points.
Leading scorer Mevlut Erding returned from injury at the weekend, coming on as a substitute, but manager Philippe Hinschberger clearly prioritized the match against Lens, even with a squad weakened by the absences of Georges Mandjeck, Ismaila Sarr and Cheick Doukouré through their participation in AFCON. Loan signing Cheick Diabaté could be somewhat of a balm, and is expected to start in Paris, but despite his considerable experience, is unlikely to offer enough to tip the scales in the visitors’ favor. After another frustrating defeat, the mood is dark at the club, and the focus will surely be on the league and Sunday’s trip to a Nice side that looked off the pace against Lorient in the cup.
The draw for the semi-finals will follow, with Nancy and Monaco already in the hat from Tuesday’s games.