Coupe de France Round of 32 – What did we learn?

If Aissa Yahia Bey has an agent, I'm sure his phone is ringing off the hook.

After the bleeding of top Ligue 1 team’s in the Round of 64, many were expecting it to maybe change in the Round of 32, where competition would get tighter and where the best would raise to the occasion. Well, that didn’t happen exactly as planned, which brings us to our “what did we learn” analysis about this weekend’s French Cup matches.

Smaller teams want it more – Even in cases where the bigger teams were victorious, the smaller teams still gave them a fight. Agen had no right scoring two goals against Paris St. Germain. Rennes and Lille has less than stellar performances against weaker opponents. Lorient needed extra time to defeat Vendée Fontenay Foot. And, of course, Brest, Bordeaux and Lyon were defeated (though Lyon did play against Nice on the road in the only Ligue 1 match up). In the last few years, starting with the Cup victory by Guingamp over Rennes, smaller teams are starting to become more relevant in this competition. The question is “who will lose next week”?

Aissa Yahia Bey needs to leave the CFA 2 – during his match against Monaco, Aissa Yahia Bey was stellar. In his match against Brest, he was even more incredible. The 29-year old attacker was a constant threat against both Ligue 1 teams. His ball handling, passing, dribbling and determination makes him Ligue 1 Talk’s “Player of the Round”. Whoever would be 2nd place for this honor would not even be close. While Yahia Bey’s age might be of some concern, some teams looking for that extra boost in Ligue 2 might want to consider his services. Of course, it is sometimes hard to tell if a player can perform at this high of a level constantly, but Yahia Bey, at least in two matches, shows he is worth more than being a CFA 2 player.

Chambery going to the quarterfinals? – Of course, the big story of the of the Round of 32 was the knocking off of Brest by CFA 2 side Chambery, not as much for Brest being knocked out, but by the continued impressive performance by Chambery. The round before they knocked off Monaco. Luckily for them, they have played all of their matches at home. Still, even home field advantage shouldn’t make any of these matches close. And going into the next round Chambery are taking on Sochaux, who haven’t looked that great on the road this season. Therefore, if they continue to play as well as they have, and some possible upsets yet again, Chambery has a chance to advance even further than the quarterfinals. Eventually this gravy train will have to come to a halt, but for now, it is fun to watch.

Bordeaux are your average mid-table team – I have been saying it all year long. And for every time I say it, I get someone telling me that I don’t know what I am talking about. Still, after their performance against Angers, I stick by my statement that Bordeaux is nothing more than an average, mid-table Ligue 1 team. Earlier in the season, I predicted that Bordeaux would not make it into a European Qualifying spot for yet another year. And with the possibility of both the French and League Cups being won by teams that might not qualify for European competition due to league standings, this will make it even harder for Bordeaux to qualify.

As of right now, the team looks horrible. Their defense isn’t that good. The top healthy defender, Benoit Tremoulinas, seems to care more about bringing the ball up the pitch while playing sloppy defensively. While Michael Ciani does show promise, Ludovic Sane just isn’t cutting it in the top flight. Of course, the absence of Mathieu Chalme and Marc Planus really hurts, but even so, they should be decent defensively. No wondering Cedric Carrasso looks like he is going to have a stroke out there yelling at his players constantly.

As far as the rest of the pitch, Fahid Ben Khalfallah has been a bust since arriving from Valenciennes, Wendel is not even playing near the level he did last year. While Alou Diarra has had some good matches, he has taken some stupid fouls as well. Basically, Jaroslav Plasil is the only one looking decent. And as far as the strikers, the only one that shows any promise is young Cheick Diabate. This team is in shambles and will need to do something to turn it around. Maybe that is why Kevin Gameiro isn’t too keen on a move to Bordeaux.

And when all parts of the team are failing (except Carrasso and a few quality players), then one must possibly look at coaching.

Boukari move out of Lens might have helped – After Razak Boukari left Lens for Rennes, Toifilou Maoulida, who has been an important part of Lens’ offense over the last few years, needed to step it up. And in the only Ligue 1 match of the weekend, he did just that. The move of Boukari to Rennes might have been baffling, since he was Lens’ leading scorer. But Maoulida has been extremely ineffective this season. Now with Boukari gone, Maoulida seems to have found his touch. And if Lens could get youngster David Pollet to produce, maybe Lens can look to make a second half of the season charge like they did last year.

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