Ligue 1

Between Two Worlds: Previewing The 2016-17 Coupe De France Final

Paris Saint-Germain's Uruguayan forward Edinson Cavani celebrates his goal during the French Cup semi-final match between Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on April 26, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / FRANCK FIFE (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)
Between Two Worlds: Previewing The 2016-17 Coupe De France Final

As the French Republic moves forward with a new leader, a new purpose, a new sense of belonging in the year 2017, the sport of association football takes center stage with one of France’s showcase events, now entering its 100th year of existence. Two teams, one representing the main city, the establishment, the nation’s capital of Paris; the other representing the countryside, the rural, hardworking farms and laborers, the town of Angers; will battle at the national cathedral of the world’s game, the Stade de France in the 2016-17 Coupe de France Final.

 

Since the takeover of the club by Nasser Al-Khelaifi and the Qatar Investment Authority, Paris Saint-Germain have experienced a renaissance of form, winning a rich vein of domestic silverware under Laurent Blanc and now earning its dues under Unai Emery. The team has taken a step back with investments in players that never got their foot off the ground like Grzegorz Krychowiak, Jese Rodriguez and Alphonse Areola, but led by stars such as Marco Verratti, Blaise Matuidi, Adrien Rabiot, Kevin Trapp, Marquinhos, Julian Draxler, Lucas Moura, Serge Aurier, Maxwell Scherrer, Thiago Motta, Thiago Silva, Angel Di Maria and Edinson Cavani, PSG are closing in on solidifying a return to next year’s UEFA Champions League…as the second-best team in Ligue 1.

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Once upon a time, Cavani was criticized by yours truly for bringing the club’s brand and his own brand into disrepute with a lack of production, commitment and heart. With the arrival of Draxler and the resurgent form of Di Maria, El Matador of Salto, Uruguay has hit his stride and was rewarded with a contract extension to become the face of PSG through 2020. It is an honor that will surely see Cavani overtake Zlatan Ibrahimovic for most goals scored across all competitions for the mighty Parisians. A win in the Coupe de France Final will be another feather in a richly decorated chapeau for Paris’s No. 9.

As a member of Ligue 1, Paris Saint-Germain started their quest for a historic 11th Coupe de France title with a Round of 64 match against relegation-bound SC Bastia on Jan. 7. The match marked the debut of Julian Draxler, who scored in the 89th minute of a 7-0 shellacking. Other goalscorers included Silva (31′), Rabiot (42′), Christopher Nkunku (49′), Motta (67′), Lucas (64′) and Di Maria (77′). That tie took place in Group D.

In the Round of 32, PSG were on the road to take on Stade Rennais FC at Roazhon Park on Feb. 1. Draxler scored a brace in the 27th and 68th minute in a 4-0 shutout win. Other goalscorers included Lucas (38′) and Hatem Ben Arfa (90′). In the Round of 16, a stern challenge faced PSG, Chamois Niortais and a poorly-kept pitch, a cow paddock known as the Stade Rene Gaillard in Niort. A long and tenuous arm wrestle saw PSG finally break through on goals from Javier Pastore (78′) and Edinson Cavani (90′ + 4′) in a 2-0 grinder on Mar. 1.

A far more simpler task awaited the Parisians as they traveled to the heart of Normandy, Caen and the Stade Michel d’Ornano. The amateurs of US Avranches Mont Sant Michel gave PSG a scare with some brave looks on goal on Apr. 5, but eventually, the professionals of the Paris Saint-Germain Football Club gave these feisty footballing lesson in the form of a workmanlike 4-0 victory. Ben Arfa recorded a brace in the 35th and 53rd minutes while Lucas (56′) and Pastore (82′) slammed the door shut.

PSG are a team that take every competition and every opponent seriously, and after AS Monaco manager Leonardo Jardim chose to rest the starters for Ligue 1 play against Toulouse FC (who are one of a few sides to go unbeaten against PSG across all competitions), Paris took that as deliberately devaluing the tournament and made them pay big-time with one of its biggest wins against what has been, historically, their bete noire.

On Apr. 26, PSG hammered Monaco’s reserves 5-0 at Le Parc on goals from Draxler (26′), Cavani (31′), Matuidi (52′), Marquinhos (90′) and Monaco reserve player Safwan Mbae, who scored an own goal on debut in the 50th minute. It was a gaffe that saw Marquinhos offer his own condolences to the youngster as the Brazilian himself knew that PSG were given a virtual free pass and a strong chance of defending their trophy.

And who will they defend it against? None other than the Angers Western Sporting Club, the Angers Sporting Club de l’Ouest, Angers SCO, managed by Stephane Moulin. A victory by Angers who are currently 14th on the Ligue 1 table and not exactly out of relegation danger just yet, would be comparable, to, let’s say…ah! This.

That’s right. Wigan Athletic over Manchester City, 2013 edition of the FA Cup Final at Wembley. (Currently, as it stands, Wigan are heading to EFL One, England’s third division, where both Dons teams currently reside.) There are a number of players who could make themselves big like Ben Watson did on that day in May. One of them is Famara Diedhiou, who leads the team in goals scored with eight. Karl Toko Ekambi is the man to watch for Angers. He scored in the 90th minute in their last Coupe de France match and has six goals this season.

 

A late dry spell in league play means that Angers are going all hands on deck to make the Europa League in what would arguably be the biggest victory in their club’s history. PSG have won 32 major trophies, more than any other club in the country. Angers have yet to win a major trophy in French club football. This would be their first.

And Angers had it tough in the Round of 64 to start off. They were placed in Group A and faced fourth-division side US Granville at the Stade Louis Dior on Jan. 8. Jonathan Bamba (24′) and Dickson Nwakaeme (61′) scored for SCO in a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Granville. In the Round of 32, Angers faced SM Caen at the Stade Raymond Kopa, their home ground named after a legend of the game from yesteryear who began his career there and passed away earlier this year. A brace from Thomas Mangani (14, 82′) and some 89th minute insurance from Pierrick Capelle powered Angers SCO to a 3-1 win on Feb. 1.

In the Round of 16, Angers continued to walk on the wild side against CA Bastia at the Stade Ange Casanova in Ajaccio. Diedhiou was the hero, scoring in the 40th minute to shut Corsica out of the cup, 1-0 on Feb. 28. In the quarterfinals, back at Angers on Apr. 5, goals from Kevin Berigaud (8′) and Cheikh N’Doye (67′) drove Moulin’s chargers to a 2-1 win over Girondins de Bordeaux. In the semifinals at home to EA Guingamp, Mangani (38′) and Toko Ekambi (90′ + 2′) won a tough contest to the tune of 2-0 on Apr. 25.

While Monaco have been free-scoring for fun in Ligue 1, PSG have been doing the same in the Coupe de France, and this is why The Stoppage Time believes it will be a showcase for PSG fans to enjoy in Saint-Denis. Here are your 10 Bold Predictions for Angers SCO vs. Paris Saint-Germain. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m. PT/3 p.m. ET on May 27. Our live blog begins at 6 a.m. PT and also includes coverage of the Scottish Cup Final, the FA Cup Final, and the DFB Pokal Final.

  • Under four cards will be issued.
  • At least 40 fouls will be whistled.
  • Kevin Trapp will make at least four saves.
  • Alexandre Letellier will make at least five saves.
  • Edinson Cavani will score for Paris Saint-Germain.
  • Julian Draxler will score for Paris Saint-Germain.
  • Angel Di Maria will score for Paris Saint-Germain.
  • Blaise Matuidi will score for Paris Saint-Germain.
  • Lucas Moura will score for Paris Saint-Germain.
  • Karl Toko Ekambi will score for Angers SCO.

Paris Saint-Germain 5, Angers SCO 1

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Ligue 1
@joryansalazar

Jo-Ryan Salazar is a writer for The Stoppage Time, a soccer blog powered by Azteca Soccer. A supporter of the Los Angeles Galaxy since 1996 and a committed supporter since 2002, Jo-Ryan also follows Chelsea FC, Melbourne Victory, FC Tokyo and Paris Saint-Germain. Apart from soccer, Jo-Ryan is an administrative assistant for a local nonprofit in Long Beach, California and also does photography, photo-editing and fictional writing.

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