Coupe De France 8emes – Wednesday – Marseille v Monaco
Day 2 of the Coupe de France round of 16 is here, and we have already had one cupset with CFA side Frejus Saint-Raphael beating Ligue 2’s Auxerre 2-0, with first-half goals from Neupoc Mendy and Karim Tlili. Will another underdog join them in the quarter-finals? Today’s big match is Marseille v Monaco (insert joke here – ed.).
Niort (Ligue 2) v Paris-SG (Ligue 1) – 18:30 CET
OK we admit, we’re fearing for Niort here. The Ligue 2 side have ambled through the previous rounds but now suddenly face the juggernaut that is Paris Saint-Germain. The same PSG side who are unbeaten in 2017, the same PSG side who have so far scored 13 times in their two Coupe de France fixtures, put four past Barcelona and hit five in Le Classique, although even Niort would have seen some of that Marseille defending and thought “hey we’re surely better than that!!”
Les Chamois have had a mixed season, perhaps best summed up by their form in 2017 so far. Unbeaten throughout January, including a notable win against Amiens, they’ve now lost three of their five games in February with a surprise loss at home to another capital club, Red Star, being the most recent. Of even more concern for Niort was the red card shown to key midfielder Romain Grange in that Red Star match which rules him out for the visit of PSG. It will therefore fall on the likes of Jimmy Roye and top scorer Ande Dona Ndoh to provide the necessary spark.
With PSG riding high, it’s likely there will be a number of changes from the side that swept Marseille aside. However, potentially bringing in the likes of Julian Draxler, Serge Aurier and Christopher Nkunku can hardly be seen as weakening the team. After 7-0 and 4-0 wins in the previous rounds, the odds of a scoreline somewhere in between must be pretty good.
Quevilly-Rouen (National) v Guingamp (Ligue 1)
This is one of those ties that gets the Coupeset warning alarm flashing amber. Quevilly of the third tier have good memories of the cup over the last few years and are perhaps one of those sides most associated with the beloved Coupeset, reaching the final in 2012. They come up against a Guingamp side who have had only three league wins since the start of December, bizarrely though two of those were against PSG and Lyon.
Guingamp hardly set the world alight in their previous cup games with a narrow win over Le Havre followed up by an extra time victory over another National side in Les Herbiers. Antoine Kombouare will be hoping his top scorers, Jimmy Briand and Yannis Salibur, can rediscover their goalscoring touch with the pair only notching two goals between them in 2017.
Quevilly are enjoying an unbeaten run that stretches back to October 2016, albeit a run that consists of eight draws and four wins. They are sitting nicely in third place in the National, just three points behind leaders Dunkerque. They come into the Guingamp game off the back of an important win against another Breton side in Concarneau. Top scorer Medhy Guezoui will lead the line and look to punish, where possible, a Guingamp defence which has looked a little shaky of late.
This one could be tight and another considerable notch for Quevilly may be on the cards.
Avranches (National) v Strasbourg (Ligue 2)
In one of only two Round of 16 ties that will guarantee lower-league representation in the quarter finals, Avranches of the National host Ligue 2 high-fliers Strasbourg.
The home side, perhaps distracted by their Cup run, have slipped down to third-bottom of the third tier – cup ties aside they are winless and indeed pointless in 2017, and have lost six straight matches, most recently 2-1 at Chateauroux at the weekend. Coach Damien Ott will therefore not be going OTT at the tie, mindful that National survival is more important in the long run, however much a Cup run could bring in for the club’s coffers and fame.
Avranches turned from giant-killer to giant in the last round, seeing off the CFA’s Fleury 91, the only goal of the game an excellent shot from Le Havre loanee Dylan Louiserre, having previously accounted for Ligue 2 Laval.
Promotion-chasing Strasbourg are a different prospect to lowly Laval, however. Although they are coming off a surprise 0-2 home defeat to Clermont, they sit in third place in what is an incredibly close-fought battle to go up to Ligue 1. As such, they too will not want the Coupe to be too much of a distraction. In the last round they edged past Division d’Honneur side Le Poiré sur Vie 1-0, veteran Vincent Gragnic scoring the only goal early on, and Thierry Laurey will be happy with another low-key, energy-preserving win.
League position and form suggest an away win, but if Strasbourg take their eye off the ball, Avranches could spring another surprise.
Marseille (Ligue 1) v Monaco (Ligue 1) – 21:05 CET
Probably the biggest fixture of the round and one with teams going through contrasting emotions. Marseille are currently in one of their doom and gloom moods, and come up against a Monaco side overflowing with confidence.
Rudi Garcia’s side come into this match off the back of a humiliating 5-1 defeat at home to PSG in Sunday’s Classique. It was a showing of real worry as they looked utterly clueless in defence, something encapsulated by Patrice Evra’s performance. He was woeful in the first half, clattered into one of his own players, and was dragged off at half time. He wasn’t alone in horribly under-performing with the midfield non-existent and the attack, without Bafetimbi Gomis, looking harmless.
Monaco on the other hand have no such problems in front of goal. Their well-documented scoring exploits have ensured the players and coach Leonardo Jardim are becoming household names around Europe. Whilst they may have taken their foot of the gas in the league – they rather uncharacteristically have only scored three goals in total across their last two games – that did sandwich the match of the Champions League so far as they went down to a 5-3 loss against Manchester City.
With Gomis still missing, Marseille will have to continue looking upon Clinton Njie for goal inspiration, something he’s struggled to live up to. Monaco may look to change things up with the league remaining their main focus, and Jardim has already confirmed that Falcao won’t be starting. That squad rotation has seen them scrape through both of their cup games so far whilst Marseille can take comfort from having knocked out Lyon in the previous round. That comfort though may be wiped out if Marseille fans care to remember the two league fixtures against Monaco. Cumulatively the score is 8-1. What odds for that many goals on Wednesday night?