WILL DYER (@w2Dyer) goes left-field for a preview of the Coupe de France final. PSG face mid-table battlers Angers at the Stade de France, hoping to carve out some success from an otherwise anonymous season.
Angers v Paris Saint-Germain | Saturday 20:00 | TV5 Monde
Paris Saint-Germain feature in their eighth Coupe de France final in the last 14 years. Les Parisiens have only won four of the previous seven in a cup competition that regularly serves up underdog success stories.
There have been five finalists this century from outside the top division and recent winners have also included; Guingamp (twice), Sochaux, Lorient, Strasbourg and Auxerre (twice).
This time it’s Angers turn to grace the Stade de France. The club from the Maine-et-Loire region in north-west France posted a 12th place finish in Ligue 1 this season, a backwards step on their standing in eighth last season but a success nonetheless.
No Anger in Angers
This season was just their seventh ever in the French top flight and former player turned manager Stephane Moulin should therefore be commended on their recent achievements. Moulin played for Les Scoistes for six years in the 1980s and returned to manage the B team in 2005. In 2011, he made the step up to the first team and has since overseen a wonderful ascent.
PSG should be fired up for this, fresh from their Ligue 1 title disappointment. Unai Emery’s men ended up finishing eight points behind Monaco and exited the Champions League in the Round of 16 at the hands of Barcelona, despite being four goals ahead on aggregate from the first leg.
Emery has so far won the Coupe de la Ligue and the Trophee des Champions but, as a result of their performances elsewhere, you can bet your bottom dollar that winning the premier domestic cup competition means something.
Angers navigated past Guingamp in the semi-final, overcoming a late scare as Jimmy Briand missed a late penalty to equalise before they capped the game off with a goal from second top scorer Karl Toko Ekambi to make it 2-0.
That win put an end to a poor run in April where they lost four of their five other fixtures and evidently boosted their confidence as they churned out a further seven points from 12 to close the league season.
Both fixtures between Paris Saint-Germain and Angers finished 2-0 this season; a solid showing from the small fry. Perhaps a good indicator of Angers’ ability is the superiority they held when hosting PSG at the Stade Raymond Kopa. The hosts had 17 shots to PSG’s 10 and were unlucky to lose with the visitors scoring with both shots on-target.
PSG will be frustrated by this season and three of their big players; Edinson Cavani, Angel di Maria and Javier Pastore may not have the best of frame of mind after tax evasion accusations circled earlier this week. The club is certainly not as buoyant as it’s been in recent years.
Angers have fielded a mostly consistent starting eleven this season. As for PSG, they have played Alphonse Areola in goal in the cups this season but Kevin Trapp could take over. Maxwell, the most decorated active footballer in the world having won 36 trophies, plays his last game for Les Rouge et Bleu.
Marco Verratti should make a welcome return from injury but otherwise there should be no significant changes for Paris. It’ll be a strong line up from PSG and a win is certainly expected with 1/5 (PaddyPower) the best price available.
However, the bet for me is Angers +2 on the Asian Handicap at 11/12 with 188Bet. With two close games between them already this season and a relatively sombre mood at the Parc des Princes, I think there’s room to support the underdogs.
PSG only narrowly beat second division Auxerre 1-0 in the 2015 final and I think they could again underestimate their progressive and plucky opposition. Win, draw or lose by one goal and we get a full payout, lose by two and our stake is returned.
Angers v Paris Saint-Germain – Angers +2 Asian Handicap (11/12 188Bet)