French Cup Preview – Round of 64 (Fri. and Sat. matches).

Could Paris FC defeat Toulouse yet again at the Stadium Municipal?

With the 7th and 8th round of the French Cup finished, we will finally be able to watch the top teams in action against the Championnat National and CFA teams. Of course, most of the big teams are expected to win, but there are always surprises. Last year, CFA’s Colmar (now in the CN) knocked off Lille. True, Lille didn’t have many of their players, but Colmar were impressive nonetheless.

So could this year be the same as the last few years, which have thrown up a number of surprises? In the last round, we have already seem some Ligue 2 teams (Châteauroux, Grenoble and Laval to name a few) knocked off by weaker opponents. The question is if the trend will continue this weekend.

The French Cup action will begin on Friday with a 2008 rematch between Toulouse FC and CN side Paris FC. Two years ago, Paris FC went into the Stadium Municipal and knocked off Toulouse by a 2-1 score. Therefore, it is only fitting that these two teams kick off the French Cup competition. And unlike many other Ligue 1 teams, who might take Championnat National competition less seriously, Toulouse will be playing many of their big guns. The only real players of note that will be missing are Tabanou, Machado, M’Bengue, Braaten and Cetto.

Most of the matches will be taking place on Saturday, with a couple of Ligue 1 teams going against one another. The big match that everyone will be watching Saturday will be Caen vs. Lyon. Earlier this season, Caen beat Lyon by a 3-2 score. And while both team’s fortunes have switched since that encounter, it can easily be said that Caen can vividly remember their win against Lyon. The question is if Lyon is ready to avenge that loss.

Paris St. Germain will also take on Ligue 1 competition, hosting Lens on Saturday. This will be Laszlo Boloni’s first competitive match as the Lens coach. In addition, Lens will be without their leading scorer Razak Boukari, who transferred to Lens earlier this week. Still, with Boukari’s departure, this means that Toifilou Maoulida, who has been far from impressive this season, will have to step it up for Lens. Another big question going into this match is if Stephane Sessegnon will suit up for PSG. And how he has been acting the last two weeks, the safe money is “no”.

In addition to these two Ligue 1 team facing off, there are a number of Ligue 2 and Ligue 1 vs. Ligue 2 and match ups. The most interesting match up will be US Chauvigny vs. Le Mans. Chauvigny is small. They aren’t even in the CFA 2, but instead the regional Ligue du Centre-Ouest de football. In fact, they are so small, they do not even have a Wikipedia page….in French! Yet in the last round they knocked Ligue 2’s Châteauroux by an impressive score of 3-0. And while not much is known about then, Steven Vergerolle scored two goals for the club in that match, so he might want to be a player to keep your eye on.

Here is a glimpse at the other French Cup matches for Saturday:

US Créteil vs. OGC Nice – Of course, Nice isn’t having the smoothest of times, but that is to be expected, it’s Nice. Still, even with their lack of quality play, it will be interesting to see if David Bellion can get back into the scoring grove with his former team. Créteil are in the Championnat National and are currently sitting in 13th place. Like Nice, Créteil are a very defensive team.

If you are looking for any players to watch on this Creteil team, former Sedan defender Boris Mahon de Monaghan and veteran French Cup winning goalkeeper Richard Trivino should be high on the list. This should be a defensive match up, with Nice pulling off the win. Still, Nice can’t score on the road, which means someone like former Nimes striker Ali Boulebda or Frédéric Marques, who shined at CSO Amnéville last year with 27 goals in 31 appearances, could be the hero in a possible upset.

ESTAC Troyes vs. Metz – This Ligue 2 match up might be just what Metz needs to get back on track. Finishing just outside of a Ligue 1 promotion spot last year, Metz is now stuck in the relegation zone, four points behind 17th place Vannes. With the departure of Victor Mendy and the return of Jérémy Pied to Lyon, nobody on this Metz side has picked up the offensive leadership role. Hopefully this match will help Metz find the player that will help them put the ball in the back of the net. So far, nobody has been close to fulfilling this role.

As for ESTAC, a team that won promotion from the Championnat National last season, they are playing decent, sitting in 11th place. While ESTAC is a defensive team as well, they do have an offensive spark. Marcos dos Santos currently has seven goals in the Ligue 2 season. Still, even with seven goals, he is responsible for almost half of Troyes’ goals. If Metz, who are decent defensively, can shut down dos Santos, then they might have a chance to win. Again, this should be a very tight defensive match with possibly only one goal being scored.

ES Wasquehal vs. AJ Auxerre – In the American movie “The Longest Yard”, which is about a prison American football team, Adam Sandler (who plays the teams coach) said “Yeahhh, in college we’d start every season against Appalachian State or some slack Division II team…kick the living shit out of them. Get our confidence up.” Hopefully, beating Wasquehal will be Auxerre’s confidence boost for the rest of the Ligue 1 season. They should win this game easily, but stranger things have happened….like Appalachian State beating #5 ranked Michigan in 2007. Still, most people will be watching to see how Auxerre’s new signing Jung Jo-Gook will fair.

AC Arles Avignon vs. CS Sedan – As anyone that follows Ligue 1 knows, Arles-Avignon are just horrible. Still, could they look good against a Ligue 2 team? Sedan is currently looking to challenge for the Ligue 2 title and could possibly take Arles-Avignon’s Ligue 1 spot next year. Sedan has a good offense and a good defense. One the other hand, Arles-Avignon has a bad offense and bad defense. Maybe that is what happens when a team signs so many players in the off-season that haven’t play with one another before? But Sedan look strong in this match, and should take the victory on the road.

Forbach vs. LOSC Lille Métropole – Lille is leading the Ligue 1 table. Forbach is in 9th place in the CFA 2, Group C table. Hopefully, Lille will play some of their younger talent in this match, as their senior squad would absolutely embarrass Forbach.

FC Nantes vs. UA Cognac – Nantes is another club that is looking to return to their Ligue 1 glory days. So far, the road back to the top level hasn’t been easy, and this season isn’t any easier. They are currently in 5th place and, like always, just seem to be a little shy of what they need to return to the top flight. Still, playing at home against Cognac, who is near the bottom of the CFA 2, Group G standings, should maybe give them a confidence boost, much like Auxerre. Nantes is a defensive team, but don’t be surprised if they turn on the offensive afterburners in this match.

Nîmes Olympique vs.ET FC Fréjus Saint-Raphael – Like many of the match ups on Saturday, this one expects to be a defensive struggle as well, with both Nimes and Frejus St.-Raphael being strong in the back. And while both teams really haven’t had an offensive touch this year, they both do a good job spreading the ball around to different scorers. Not one player really dominates the scoring chart for either team. Also, unlike other matches, both teams are filled with more experienced players, and will rarely rely on youth to help them pull out the victory. Nimes should pull off the win at home, but again, a very defensive match up.

Girondins de Bordeaux vs. FC Rouen 1899 – One can say that after their lackluster performance against Rodez in the French Cup a year ago, Bordeaux didn’t look the same. Could Rouen be the next Rodez? Of course, Bordeaux did win the match 1-0, but they looked far from impressive. And how Bordeaux is doing this season, they might be in store for another poor French Cup performance against an inferior opponent.

Rouen, while being a decent defensive team, is also very offensive minded as well. Many of their midfielders already have one goal this season. But if any player is expected to break out, it is Cameroonian Andé Dona N’doh, who already has seven goals for Rouen this season. Could Rouen pull off an upset…yes. But will they likely? Not really.Still, Rodez didn’t win last year either, but they did give Bordeaux a scare.

Angers SCO vs. Valenciennes FC – One of the bottom teams in Ligue 1 vs. one of the bottom teams in Ligue 2. And while Valenciennes has been less than impressive other the last two months, they still have the talent that should see them through to the next round. Gregory Pujol and Gael Danic will be the key to a Valenciennes victory, as they are nearly every week. And if VAFC’s defense can shut down Angers’ Claudiu Keserü, who is a decent play-maker, then they can pretty much shut down Angers in general.

FC Lorient vs. Vannes OC – Yes, this is a Ligue 1 vs. Ligue 2 match up, but this match could get really ugly, really quick. Vannes has second worse defense behind Grenoble in Ligue 2. And if Christian Gourcuff unleashes Kevin Gameiro, Sigamary Diarra and Lynel Kitambala, and lets them go “full force”, Vannes might not know what hit them. A Lorient win should be expected, the question is what the margin should be. Gameiro doesn’t have a hat-trick this season…could this be the game where he does?

Stade de Reims vs. Montpellier Hérault SC – Montpellier has had an up-and-down season. While their play has looked impressive, even in losses, injuries and suspension have made it hard for Montpellier to have any consistency. Luckily for them, they will be playing one of the worse teams in Ligue 2 for their French Cup match up in Reims. Reims have spent much of the last few years bouncing between Ligue 2 and the Championnat National, and this season isn’t much different. But with this being the inconsistent Montpellier, an upset is possibly in the cards.

Jarville vs. FC Sochaux Montbéliard – In our interview with Matt Spiro, he said that this might be an “upset alert” type of match. Sochaux hasn’t done well on the road this season. In addition, Jarville defeated Dijon in the last round. While we don’t know that much about Jarville, they do seem to have a very young, and possibly motivated team. Should this be shades of Colmar all over again? Even with the talent gap between these two teams, it could still be close or a blowout. Sochaux should get the win, but an upset could be in the making.

AS Saint-Etienne vs. Clermont Foot – After a great start to the Ligue 1 season, St. Etienne seem to have fallen back to earth. Dimitri Payet hasn’t played as well in the last month, and crazy mistakes has cost ASSE many points. So, can they get their “groove on” against Clermont Foot?

Both of these teams are very offensive minded. ASSE has Dimitri Payet and Emmanuel Riviere. Clermont Foot has Sloan Privat and Romain Alessandrini. While Privat has played for Sochaux, this match might just put Alessandrini on some of the Ligue 1 radars. If there is any player to watch, it will be this 21-year old.

Still, this game could be very high scoring, but St. Etienne should have the edge. The question is if they will be able to turn this match into a confidence booster that they need for the second half of the Ligue 1 season. They have shown that they can play some impressive football, now they need to continue to do so.

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