No individual previews for Cup games, instead I am going to include all games (short analysis) in a single post.
1. Valencienens – Troyes
Both sides with the best possible team. No player was left to rest by choice but only forced by circumstances.
Hosts will be without defensive midfielder Doumbia and young forward N’Guette, both of them injured. But the good news is that they welcome back central midfielder Enza Yamissi, suspended last round, veteran striker Pujol injured for a couple of rounds and attacking midfielder Melikson.
Especially striker Pujol will be a major boost. Since he’s been out Valenciennes couldn’t pose any danger upfront. New coach Jacobs prefers playing with 2 strikers and most likely Pujol will go straight into the lineup next to Le Tallec. There’s a possibility for Melikson to start also. This will be a first for Valenciennes, to play with 2 strikers and 1 attacking midfielder.
I see Valenciennes being more offensive than usual, especially with Jacobs in need of proving himself.
Opponents Troyes brought their best team. They play pure offensive football and have a number of talented strikers to chose from.
Hosts are known as underish, but now circumstances are different and we just have to take advantage of the wonderful odds. 2.15 for over 2.5 goals.
2. Nantes – Lorient
Maybe Nantes didn’t deserve to lose last round, but the truth is they have a thin squad and rely too much on a couple of players.
Of course the one with the most influence is striker Djordjevic and he will miss this game (left to rest). Alongside Djordjevic, Nantes will also have to do without several other key players: central defenders Vizacarrondo and Djilobodji. These guys will be severely missed.
Other players sitting out, but having proper replacements, are: fullback Alhadhur, winger Gakpe and midfielders Veretout.
Lorient will also be without several players but the thing is the entire team is more versatile and experienced. They’ve gone through hell and back because of injuries and suspensions since the beginning of the season so there’s nothing scaring them anymore.
First of all keeper Audard will miss, but if you watched him play lately you know he ain’t gonna be missed. Forward Aliadiere is not in the squad, so it’s a good thing that Sunu and Diallo returned from injury last round.
Central midfielders Coutadeur and Lautoa will also miss but they’ve changed the central midfield so many times this season that even own fans lost track.
The point is Lorient are accustomed with many changes and players being moved from one position to another. They are still able to achieve maximum potential.
The odds on Nantes are just ridiculous, Lorient X2 at 2.00 is the way to go.
3. Creteil – Toulouse
Toulouse’s defense in 3 betrayed them last round and the shameful defeat (0-5 vs Rennes) made the world tour already. Not even the most optimistic of Rennes’ supporters predicted such a scoreline.
Toulouse will of course focus in washing away the shame and with a minimum goal advantage they can’t possibly do it.
They will be more savage and determined than usual. Bad news for them as central defender Spajic will miss, same as defensive midfielder Didot.
Zebina will most likely take Spajic’s place, but he is out of form and was more than hesitant last round vs Rennes (he played 1 half).
Didot’s absence will surely have an impact on the game. Thanks to his experience and skills Toulouse’s defense in 3 was able to work properly (except last round). Now, when they will be more aggressive than usual, Didot won’t be there to provide stability and safety.
Striker Ben Basat may be given a chance seeing that in the league he is only a substitute. Hopefully, mediocre Braithwaite will be benched and Ben Basat will play.
Last season Creteil were one of my favorites for betting on goals. They’ve changed a bit since promoting, more mature now, but still may prove to be the perfect opponents for Toulouse and offer an entertaining and high scoring game.
Over 2.5 goals for at the excellent price of 2.25
4. Rennes – Nancy
The Gods were on Rennes’ side last week when they trashed Toulouse 5-0. Leaving aside the amazing result (which still takes me by surprise) it was weird seeing Rennes with a clean sheet. The main reason for that (in my book) is Toulouse’s striker Braithwaite lack of real abilities, but that’s an entire different story.
Usually in the defense Rennes make at least one vital error per game. Offering a bit if stability is central defender Armand who will miss this game. Most probably young Hountondji will replace him and partner Kana Biyik in the central defense. Inexperience (Hountondji) and nonchalance, arrogance (Kana Biyik) will be the main “attributes” of Rennes’ central defense.
Keeper Costil is also out, same as central midfielders Pajot, Konradsen and Doucoure.
Offensively speaking Nancy are doing great as of late. They could always score against a defensively depleted Rennes (no Costil, Armand, Pajot, Konradsen and Doucoure)
Nancy to score at the odds of 1.66 is the best bet here.
5. Bastia – Ajaccio
The Corsican derby will be played in a sad atmosphere, on neutral venue and behind closed doors.
The momentum definitely belongs to Bastia since they have found a proper formula and opponents Ajaccio keep on disappointing. In this rhythm, Ajaccio’s coach Ravanelli will soon have to pack his bags.
The sole good news for Ajaccio is that striker Oliech finally finally came back from injury last week. He may be able to solve Ajaccio’s offensive problems, but he will need quite some time to find some form and rhythm.
For Bastia defenders Palmieri and Squillaci and winger Khazri were doubtful, but now everyone is fit and eagerly awaiting for this derby. Bastia afford the luxury of fully concentrating on this game and so they brought every regular player. Only forward Bruno is suspended, but giving a chance to Keseru may actually lead to improvements.
At the time of writing Ajaccio’s coach Ravanelli is yet to announce the group of players called for the game. But if he’s smart (though I have my doubts…) he should preserve energy and strength for the weekend seeing that Ajaccio have way bigger problems than the French Cup. It is true that winning a derby could make fans and executives see him through different lens, but losing on Saturday (vs Valenciennes) could be the first step towards unemployment…
Unfortunately bookies aren’t blind and, just like us, saw that all the factors point to Bastia winning. The price could be higher but we can still double our investment at 2.15
1. Valencienens – Troyes, over 2.5 goals
2. Nantes – Lorient, Lorient +0.5
3. Creteil – Toulouse, over 2.5 goals
4. Rennes – Nancy, Nancy to score
5. Bastia – Ajaccio, Bastia to win