Ten Ligue 1 teams out of French Cup.

The "Water Boys" of French football pull off a big upset over OM.

First, the weekend started with the shocking loss of Toulouse to Championnat National side Paris FC at the Stadium Municipal by a 2-1 score in a rematch of their 2008 “round-of-64” match up. Little did we know that this would be a trend for the rest of the weekend.

On Saturday, upsets in the French Cup started early. In the first matches played, Monaco were defeated by CFA2 side Chambery in PKs after extra time. Both keepers, Stephane Ruffier of Monaco and Guillaume Bemenou of Chambery were superb in the match, making amazing saves in both regulation, extra time and the PK shoot out. What would eventually lead to Monaco’s loss was their inaccurate penalty kicks, which looked more like they were shooting for show instead of trying to win the match. And with Monaco’s poor performance in the French Cup, along with their dismal Ligue 1 season, one might wonder how many more days coach Guy Lacombe might have left as team boss.

During the same hour, Nice had a bit of a scare as they also went into penalty kicks against Championnat National side Créteil-Lusitanos. Still, Nice were able to squeak out the win in a 6-5 PK shootout.

After these matched concluded, it wasn’t long until the next upset would come down the pike. Wasquehal, a CFA2 team from Lille, defeated former Champions League contenders Auxerre by a score a 2-1. Auxerre looked as they were going to cruise to and early victory, with Adama Coulibaly scoring in the 18th minute. But even with Benoit Pedretti, Cedric Hengbart and Anthony Le Tallec back in the starting line up, Auxerre wasn’t able to keep Wasquehal from scoring two goals late in the match to give them the win at home.

So, at this point, we are already down three Ligue 1 teams.

A little later, Arles (who is the weakest of Ligue 1 teams) lost at home to Sedan. This match went pretty much as predicted.

Now four Ligue 1 teams out.

Later in the evening on Saturday, it looked like things might turn around for the Ligue 1 teams. Lille beat CFA2 side Forbach 3-1, Bordeaux had an impressive win against Rouen 3-1.

But then Angers played against Valenciennes. Both of these teams have not played the best football in their respective levels. Still, Valenciennes, which is the Ligue 1 side, should have been able to pull off a win against Angers, who is flirting with the relegation zone in Ligue 2. If it wasn’t for one red card in the 56th minute, Valenciennes might have been able to pull off the win. But instead, Angers wins 2-1. Valenciennes did get another red card in the 119th minute, but it wasn’t a factor in the game.

Five Ligue 1 teams out…25% of the league.

Then the late Saturday matches came. This included some of the big guns. Paris St. Germain, who is the defending French Cup champions and one of the recent favorites to win the Ligue 1 title, destroyed fellow Ligue 1 counterpart Lens 5-1, making László Bölöni’s return to France not an impressive one. And in a good defensive showing, Lyon were able to defeat Caen 1-0 at the same place where the seven-time Ligue 1 champions fell 2-1 at the start of the season in league competition.

Seven Ligue 1 teams out of the French Cup.

At the same time, St. Etienne, who started the Ligue 1 season on fire but has cooled down as of late, were taking on Ligue 2’s Clermont Foot. Clermont scored in the 4th minute to take the lead. Throughout the match, both teams played well, and Clermont Foot looked to be at the same level as ASSE. Clermont would eventually add another goal, making the final score 2-0.

Also at the same time, Montpellier, who has played better than their Ligue 1 record indicates, traveled to Reims, who are currently in the relegation zone in Ligue 2. This should have been an easy victory for Montpellier, especially with Olivier Giroud, Marco Estrada and Karim Ait-Fana starting. But it wasn’t. And like the rest of the day, Montpellier falls to Reims by a 1-0 score. Goal production has been a big problem in their Ligue 1 competition, and the lack of goals bite them yet again.

Nine Ligue 1 teams out of the French Cup.

As a new day started on Sunday, the same old trends continued. In the first match of the day, Nancy took a 2-0 lead in the first half, looking to be heading toward a dominate win against CFA side Aurillac. But in the span of seven minutes, former Nice product Kamel Larbi scored two goals for the home side, leveling the match. The match would go into extra time and eventually PKs, where Nancy were able to convert all of their shots and secure the win.

Just 30 minutes later, Brest, who were briefly leading Ligue 1 at one point of the season, were scoreless against Issy-les-Moulineaux, another regional amateur team. Brest dominated most of the match, with the occasional counter-attack by Issy, but were unable to put the ball in net, even with goalkeeper Arnaud Ribeiro committing a few errors. Still, in the 99th minute, Johan Martial was able to secure the win for Brest. And while this was a game which should have seen Brest win 7-0, coach Alex Dupont should be disappointed in his team’s performance to not put this match away early.

In the last game held on Sunday, there were two match up that many people had their eye on. First, Rennes was hosting Championnat National side AS Cannes. While Rennes has been a decent team this year, Cannes are looking to make a rise back to the top flight of French football. Former Czech international Jan Koller is Cannes star. In addition, Rennes has a history of losing to “lesser opponents” in French Cup competition. Still, Koller’s magic, which has seen him score eleven goals for Cannes this year, just wasn’t there as Rennes dominated their opponent 7-0 in what was billed as a “key match up”.

Then came Marseille. Yes, Marseille have had a rocky start to the Ligue 1 season. With some major injuries as well, their road in Ligue 1 hasn’t been the easiest. Still, with players returning from injury and adding some others to the line up as well, Marseille looked to be back on track. Considered another “key match up”, Evian, the current Ligue 2 leaders, hosted Marseille.  On a damp field, American Quentin Westberg was not only able to stop a few Marseille chances, but turn the counter-attack play, giving Evian an element of surprise. In the end, Evian won the match 3-1. The champs were done.

Ten Ligue 1 teams are now out of French Cup competition.

Of course, the debate will continue about this weekend’s French Cup match up. Some might worry that an “inferior team” will win the French Cup, and therefore could make a mockery out of the entire process, which might include being embarrassed at the European competition level. For others, this might mean that teams like Lyon, Bordeaux, Rennes and Lille just saw their serious competition sliced in half, and thus making it easier for one of these teams to grab the French Cup.

In the next round of the competition, two Ligue 1 teams (Nice and Lyon) will play one another, thus eliminating another Ligue 1 team. In addition, the Sochaux vs. Paris FC and Angers vs. Bordeaux results could surprise some people. But even if the all the Ligue 1 teams win in the next round, there will be no less than seven Ligue 2 and lower level teams in the “round of 16”.

Is this good for French football? The debate will continue.

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