Coupe de France 8emes – FC Sochaux v PSG
The Coupe de France is famed not just for magic, but for history, and in this match in the 101st edition, two former winners face off. There’s a big difference in scale, however – Ligue 2’s Sochaux have two trophies, from 1937 and 2007, while PSG are the big guns of the competition with a record eleven, including the last three on the spin. For FCSM to make it any further, some sort of ‘perfect storm’ situation will be needed.
With PSG coasting along eleven points clear at the top of the table, it’s a continuing frustration for their fans that younger players are not being given the chance to get minutes (Christopher Nkunku got six against Lille on Saturday) but with other more Real Madrid-shaped pressures on Unai Emery, it may just be practical to ensure that all his stars are warmed up and available when called upon. The odds are as expected – indicative 25.00 for Sochaux, 1.05 for PSG – which is a predictably big gap if you want to learn about sports betting. The draw is also at 10.00 so this one seems nailed on to be done and dusted for PSG in regulation time.
So, what hope of an upset? Sochaux’s defence seems to have pulled itself together a bit, but it is still not in great shape with 35 conceded, which could be a lambs-slaughter situation particularly if PSG have discovered any more scoring records they could potentially break. FCSM’s 6-0 thrashing of SC Amiens in the round of 64 looks to be an outlier, both for the margin of victory and the clean sheet; their other three opponents were all fourth-tier sides, and they needed a late winner against Villefranche-sur-Saone, a late equaliser before winning on penalties against St-Louis Neuweg, and only beat Colomiers in the last round 2-1.
On Friday Sochaux won 4-1 against Gazelec Ajaccio to go seventh in the table, only two points behind AC Ajaccio in third. Florian Martin is on the goalscoring podium with 12 league goals, but they have another 13 (thirteen) scorers on the books – the Amiens result did help there – so their danger is that the goals could come from anywhere. Their defence, however, looks very unlikely to hold out.
By the vagaries of the fixture computer, PSG are in the midst of a run of five straight away games in fourteen days, but that is unlikely to bother them much – for the moment. So far in this run they have beaten Rennes 3-2 and Lille 3-0, and after this match they face Toulouse on Saturday, who despite an uptick in form probably won’t be much of a problem. But then, then, there’s Real Madrid. Who do look get-attable. But are still Real Madrid.
PSG also played eight games in January – won seven, lost one, scored 29, conceded 7 – and are playing twice a week until after they face Strasbourg in game 26. And Strasbourg were the first team to beat them this season. So, fatigue and man-management may be an issue.
Emery apparently looked a little fragile (possibly connected with Neymar’s birthday bash on Sunday?) at his pre-match presser, confirming that a few things are up in the air re the squad – Giovanni Lo Celso is suspended, so Lassana Diarra has a good chance of a start after getting an assist against Lille, and Thiago Motta is apparently fit again, so is in the squad. Julian Draxler passed a late fitness test, but Adrien Rabiot is out with hip-knack and Neymar is also missing, “option de gestion du coach“.
For Sochaux, there are several absences including centre-back Adolphe Teikeu and on-loan-from-Lyon attacker Aldo Kalulu. Despite this Peter Zeidler is in bullish mood – “we won’t be there to take photos, even if PSG are a big team in Europe”.
History is on PSG’s side, however – and magic seems unlikely.