Coupe de France 8emes – Grenoble v RC Strasbourg
The final tie of this Round of 16 has the potential for seeing another Coupe de France upset as National high-fliers Grenoble host Ligue 1’s Strasbourg. Both teams share a similarish recent back story, having plummeted from Ligue 1 status down the French football pyramid. But both are on their way back, albeit at different stages in their resurrections, and a good cup run for either team would be another positive advert to the rest of France that this time they mean to stay.
Grenoble were Coupe de France semi-finalists as recently as 2008-2009 – coinciding with the first of their two seasons in Ligue 1. Since then they have fallen to the fifth tier CFA2 but have rebuilt, winning their CFA group last year and now sitting third in the National (a 0-0 draw at Dunkerque in their last match preventing them from being second). They have suffered only three defeats all season (two of them at home) and had made serene progress in the Coupe de France too, including a 15-0 away win in Round 5 against Valleiry, and a 2-1 win at Ligue 2 GFC Ajaccio in Round 9. However, in the last round they struggled and very narrowly avoided embarrassment at fifth-tier Biesheim, who took the lead twice – once in normal time and once in extra time – only for striker Lakdar Boussaha and Dijon loanee Jessy Benet to peg them back, before Olivier Guegan’s men triumphed on penalties.
Grenoble’s success this season has in the main been built on their defence, with only 13 conceded, and they’ll look forward to testing their mettle against a good Ligue 1 attack. Particularly one which has been slightly quieter of late.
After a long unbeaten run at the back end of 2017, ended by Metz in their final game before the winter break, RCSA’s form has been a little more stuttery in 2018, with only one Ligue 1 win, seeing Thierry Laurey’s side slip slightly to 14th in the table and only two points from the relegation zone.
Their 2018 has also been unvaried: that one win came 3-2 against Dijon, in a repeat of their Coupe de France meeting two weeks earlier; and since then they have lost 2-1 in Ligue 1 to Lille – three days after beating them by the same scoreline to reach this stage. Da Costa, who scored the winner against Dijon, scored the opener against Lille, Saadi scoring the second. Saadi is out injured for this tie, but da Costa and RCSA’s remaining attackers will need to be at their best against Grenoble’s impressive defence if they want to progress further.
In their seventh cup tie of the season, this is only Grenoble’s second home draw. The Stade des Alpes crowd will ensure that they have plenty of support and will make it difficult for Strasbourg. Don’t bet against a shock here.