Coupe de France 16emes : SAS Epinal v Olympique Marseille
OM go into their last 32 tie against amateurs SAS Epinal in great form in 2018 – four games played, four wins and no goals conceded. But the manner in which they beat lower league opposition in Valenciennes in the last round gives some concern as to how seriously Rudi Garcia’s team are taking the cup competition.
The match provides a perfect opportunity for the lesser-used members of the squad to get a game. The likes of Doria, Kostas Mitroglou, Maxime Lopez should get a run-out, with the key first-teamers rested ahead of a big league match against Monaco.
Epinal meanwhile may have had a stuttering season, starting poorly, picking up a little, but going down 1-0 to Belfort in their league match at the weekend, their first reverse since November. It leaves them sitting tenth in their National 2 group, looking nervously over their shoulder – although they do have up to three games in hand on most other teams in the division.
They beat National side L’Entente SSG 2-1 in the last round in a rare away win for the Vosgiens, with goals from Omar Konte and and an injury-time winner from cup hero Segbé Azankpo Désiré, making it four in three in the cup for the Benin international. Their home form to date has been far more impressive, however, and they’ll be keen to produce a good showing at the Stade de la Colombiere.
Captain Nestor Kodjia says “we have to have the attitude of warriors and the public will need to be the 12th man … playing against professionals is our dream. When we see them on TV we learn from them. Now on the pitch it’s up to us to dream – the Coupe is also about dreams.”
Goalkeeper Olivier Robin backs up his captain: “we know that a lot of the crowd will be behind Marseille – we had that against Lyon in 2012/13. But, depending on what is happening, the Colombiere can wake up – and it’s up to us to get the Colombiere behind us.”
Marseille travel well in the league, and fourth-tier opposition should not cause them any great fear. But take this match too lightly and it could become trickier than it at first seems.