PSG face Saint-Etienne in the Coupe de France final on Friday night. Tom Love (@TomLove_18) shares his thoughts on the encounter.
PSG vs Saint-Etienne | Friday 24th July 2020, 20:05 | BT Sport
French president Emmanuel Macron decided against bringing back French football due to the pandemic, one of few countries to implement such measures. Conspiracy theorists have been rife with arguments that Macron, a loyal Marseille fan, stopped the season prematurely as it benefited his beloved OM as they’d guarantee themselves a Champions League place for next season. I’ll let you make your mind up on that….
Anyway, although league involvement was curtailed, the two national cup competitions, the Coupe de la Ligue and the Coupe de France both have finals that will be settled. It’s the latter that is up first and it’s no surprise to see moneybags Paris Saint-Germain are involved, in both for that matter.
PSG are still on course for a monumental quadruple under German coach Thomas Tuchel and they’ve had a greater balance about them this season which has made them much less vulnerable.
The addition of Idrissa Gueye meant they had a much needed ball winner and shield for the backline whilst Ander Herrera has added experience and bite when he’s been involved. Then they have the obvious attacking arsenal of Neymar, Kylian M’bappe, Edison Cavani et al. It’s no surprise to see them cruising in all competitions this campaign.
The team PSG face-off against is Les Verts, Saint Etienne of course. The blue collar club from just south-west of Lyon aren’t blessed with the deepest squad but they’ve done ever so well to make the final. Claude Puel, a face known to many people in England, is currently the manager at the club. Although his style of play is often criticised he does make his sides competitive in every game, usually with an emphasis on a solid defensive foundation.
One blow for Puel is the availability, of lack thereof, of young centre-half William Saliba. Saliba agreed a deal to join Arsenal this summer and the Gunners have refused him to play in this one which is a shame. He’s been superb all season alongside the evergreen hometown boy Loïc Perrin at the back.
Sainte have another very promising centre half coming through the ranks too in Wesley Fofana, a player that I believe will follow a similar path to Saliba. It will be interesting to see if Puel gives the youngster a go here or if he opts for Harold Moukoudi, Who is on loan from Middlesborough.
It’s going forward where ASSE struggle. They’ve lacked a proper number nine since Robert Beric left and it’s an issue they need to solve this summer. Only relegated Amiens averaged fewer shots than Les Verts this season in Ligue 1. There is quality though in Dennis Bouanga, Ryad Boudebouz and Whabi Khazri in midfield.
Les Verts have actually taken a very impressive young attacking player and French youth international from Les Parisiens and he goes by the name of Adil Aouchiche. You’ll hear plenty about the skilful forward in the next few years and it’s a huge coup for Saint Etienne that they’ve managed to bring him in. He can’t play in this one though sadly.
The betting angles
As far as finals go this is one of the more lop sided of them with PSG as short as 1/12 in some places!.That means we have to get creative and I’m more than happy to take the 4/5 (Betway) on the capital club to win and Under 4.5 Goals.
It’s a huge boost from the outright price and although PSG have the capability of obliterating any team on their day I think they’ll be content with any win here to get that second trophy in the bag. It’s hard to see Sainte getting on the scoresheet given their deep and defensive nature but if they do we still have the 2-1 and 3-1 scorelines running for us.
12/14 of the underdogs' defeats this season have seen fewer than five goals and with the magnitude of the game and possible rustiness of both teams I could see the underdogs keeping things relatively respectable.
I’m also going to dip into the cards market as I’m surprised you can get some 10/11 on there being 40+ Booking Points (SkyBet). Considering it’s a final, it’s rare to see a line that low. Saint Etienne were third in the card table this season with 57 yellows and three reds. You’d also expect PSG to be one of the lowest for cards given their sheer dominance but they rank 10th out of 20 with 50 cards.
Neymar, the chief protagonist, will be on the pitch and 40 Booking Points could be awarded for fouls on the Samba boy alone. There’s plenty of players who like a card for the favourites too in Marco Verrati and Gueye. It could get lively and I expected the line to be at 50 here so I’m happy to take 40+ at just shy of even-money.
If you’re new to Booking Points, it basically gets us a bit more onside rather than backing Over 3.5 Cards – 10 points are awarded for a yellow card, 25 for a straight red, with 35 for two yellows culminating in a red.