Une Logique de Rêves: Coupe de France Quarter-Final – US Avranches v PSG
The last remaining non-Ligue 1 representative in this year’s Coupe de France has the biggest tie available, as they host moneybags and two-time defending Coupe holders PSG.
National side Avranches won the opportunity to test themselves against the best in their first ever Coupe de France quarter final after seeing off Ligue 2 Strasbourg in the last round. Having taken the lead early in the second half through Christopher Mayulu, they recovered from the anguish of conceding an injury-time equaliser to win a penalty shoot-out, Baptiste Guyonnet scoring the decisive spot kick to send the Norman fans wild.
It was a somewhat bittersweet moment for Avranches’ Alsatian coach Damien Ott – a Strasbourg fan – but he cheered up when the draw pitched his team against PSG: “you play the Coupe de France to live moments like this – not to win it, as we know that at some point we’ll stop, but to play teams like Paris. It’s huge. They’ll rest their players but we couldn’t care less – we’ll have those memories for life”. He says that it’s an easy match to prepare for as “it’s not about tactics, it’s not about a sporting challenge – it’s about dreams – it’s fantastic!”
Avranches, in the shadow of the Mont Saint-Michel, hasn’t had this much attention since General Patton parked his tank there during the Second World War, and club president Gilbert Guérin is feeling bolshy, saying that as the team knocked out the capital of Europe, Strasbourg, in the last round, this time it’s just the capital of France so anything can happen. He also notes that, while Avranches has only 7,800 inhabitants, so does Guingamp – the last team to best PSG in the league.
Guérin didn’t get his wish to play the match at the Stade de France, but it will instead be a full house at Caen’s Stade Michel d’Ornano, with most of Normandy – actually most of France – cheering his team on. 30 busses are being provided to transport fans to the sold-out stadium – to which the matchball will be delivered by four parachutists, which could cause some nervous moments pre-match.
PSG are of course in great cup form, having scored at least four in five of their eight knock-out ties in 2017. Sadly for them, the one that really mattered was in one of the other three as they meekly conceded six to Barcelona. The best that they can hope for therefore is the consolation of a third consecutive domestic treble, the first part of which they successfully completed at the weekend with a 4-1 win against Monaco – Cavani proving yet again what a marvellous Coupe de la Ligue player he is.
While Ott is almost certainly correct in predicting that Unai Emery will rest some first-teamers, their replacement with a few more internationals shouldn’t have too much bearing on things – it’s practically inconceivable that PSG won’t win this. But Avranches, currently in reasonable form in the National, will hopefully keep it tight, nick a goal and enjoy the last few hours of their dream.
Avranches : Garel, Beuve – Clauss, Abdallah, Benet, Ricaud, Derrien, N’Kololo, Le Joncour, Lavenant, Michel, Deher, Thiare, Schur, Mayulu, Guyonnet, Farnabe, Malsa, Fofana, Blondel
PSG : Areola, Trapp – Aurier, Kimpembe, Kurzawa, Maxwell, Meunier – Matuidi, Nkunku, Pastore, Rabiot, Motta, Verratti, Lo Celso, Ben, Arfa, Draxler, Lucas – Cavani, Guedes