Coupe de France 16emes : US Colomiers v FC Sochaux

Fourth-tier Colomiers have never made it past the eighth round before, so have already written a new page in the history of the club. Top of their group in the league with a decent attack (24 scored) and the best defence in the group (only nine conceded in 17 games, well ahead of the pack) they have made it past Christmas for the first time this season, and welcome two-time winners Sochaux (1937 and 2007).

Sochaux’s cup pedigree is unquestioned – their 2007 run saw them beat Saint-Etienne, Monaco, PSG, and Marseille to raise their second trophy – watched by one Max Lehmann, the last survivor of their first, when they still played 2-3-5 (he was in the 3), on television in his retirement home, aged 100. USC’s best performance to date was in 2011 when they made the eighth round to be knocked out on penalties by Frejus Saint-Raphael.  

Colomiers are yet to meet higher-placed opposition, and needed penalties to see off same-level colleagues Le Puy in the last round after it ended 1-1; Sochaux, mid-table in Ligue 2, pulled off an unexpected result in the last round as they hammered SC Amiens 6-0 – with six different scorers, which highlights their depth in attack. Florian Martin is their top-scorer in the league with 11, followed by on-loan-from-OL Aldo Kalulu on four, but they have 11 (eleven) other scorers on the books. Their table position, therefore, is not down to lack of attack, but a distinctly shaky defensive set-up that has conceded 33 in the league, only ‘worsted’ by five teams, some of whom are frankly terrible.

This gives a ray of hope to the National 2 side, striker Kevin Cardinali – who scored the opener against Le Puy from the penalty spot – admitting that while they have yet to pull off an ‘exploit’, they are up for this, and that their home support is key « dans les moments où l’on était un peu en difficulté, ils nous ont poussé, ce qui galvanise » (“when we were struggling, they pushed us, which galvanised us”).

USC will need all that support if their run is to continue, but should remember that the 6-0 beating of Amiens was something of an outlier – Sochaux having previously beaten two other fourth-tier sides only by fine margins – 2-1 at Villefranche in the seventh round, and needing penalties to see of St Louis Neuweg after it ended 1-1 in the eighth. Sochaux are clearly get-attable at the back, so the amateurs will need to balance attacking intent with keeping their defence in place.

The Stade Capitany will be full for this as the Colomiers faithful seek to push their team to yet more glorious heights – facing a club with two in the trophy cabinet already, and looking for a continuing cup run as league success seems distant. The odds are with the visitors but the home side will be set and ready to do their utmost to cause an upset.

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