Masculins / Bayonne - OL D-2

And now for the Coupe de France...

Published on 06 January 2007 at 10:03 AM
After a fortnight without a match, OL are booting up this Sunday in Bayonne for the last 64 of the Coupe de France, a competition OL has not won since 1973…
So it begins again until May 26. And if everything goes very, very well for OL, there remain 34 matchesbefore the summer break… That’s almost 7 matches per month, a crazy schedule that begins with an apparently easy trip to the Basque country. Playing against a CFA club in the last 64 after a short break shouldn’t really pose problems to the five0time French champions, even if no-one will forget OL’s elimination at this stage of the competition on January 5, 2003 against the Penguins, who are cup specialists. Müller, Coupet, Juninho and Govou still remember that night!

As OL’s ambitions rightly become loftier and loftier, such an upset would seem impossible today. Attention must be paid to the weather conditions and the state of the pitch, which will be used the night before by rugby teams from Bayonne and Paris. Attention also to the giant-killing aspirations of the Bayonnais looking for an upset. The Basque club, which was certainly more seasoned in the era of former coach Christian Sarramagna and with a team including Strzelczac, Sallabery, Santini, Pardeillan, Histiolles, has already lived some historic Cup moments, notably in 2003-2004, when it knocked out Bordeaux in the last 32 before falling to PSG. Topping its league table after 16 rounds, Aviron can count on its solid defence (7 goals conceded) and its machine-gun attack that has scored 17 times already this season. In the Cup, Alain Pochat’s men knocked out Pau, a Nationale team, but other than that games have gone according to rank.

For this match, Gérard Houllier has 23 players at his disposal. This means that Wiltord, Fred and Benzema have put their injury troubles behind them. The attackers are finally coming back. And as for the other positions, there is strong competition for every one. So, selection headaches for Houllier as well as the prospect of the transfer market brining in new talent… with the high number of games to play, there should be enough game time for everyone. Even if this trip to the banks of the Nive and the Adour doesn’t present much of a risk on paper, no one from the OL camp will be counting their chickens. It’s not OL’s style to fail to respect the opposition. Last season, OL beat GF38 (L2) at this stage off the Cup.

With this kind of opponent, it’s important to kill the game off early in order to contain the opposition’s confidence. And it would be a disaster to be knocked out of a competition after just entering it, especially as the Coupe de France has “refused” to take its place in the OL trophy cabinet for too long. This promising adventure begins on Sunday in Bayonne… at the home of King Léon.

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