Sports Mole previews Friday’s Coupe de France clash between Metz and Clermont, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Metz and Clermont will kick off their Coupe de France campaigns on Friday, when they meet in an eighth-round tie at the Stade Saint-Symphorien.
The two Ligue 1 strugglers both head into the meeting in the midst of tough runs of league form and will bid to advance to the last 32 of the national competition.
Metz will begin their latest Coupe de France campaign on Friday aiming to improve on last year’s showing, when they progressed to the eighth round as a second-tier side before falling to a narrow 2-1 defeat away at Lyon and bowing out as a result.
The 2022-23 season proved to be a successful one on the whole for Les Grenats, as they sealed promotion back to Ligue 1, and they enjoyed a relatively positive start to life back in the top flight, collecting 16 points from their first 13 outings.
After moving onto that tally with back-to-back wins over Nantes and Lorient in November, Laszlo Boloni’s side now return to action in the new year on the back of a concerning dip in their form, having dropped closer to the relegation zone in Ligue 1 following four straight defeats, firstly falling short away at Lille and at home to Brest in 1-0 and 2-0 losses respectively.
Montpellier then visited the Stade Saint-Symphorien and condemned Les Grenats to another narrow defeat as Maxime Esteve netted the only goal of the game inside 10 minutes, before they most recently travelled to the capital before Christmas to take on leaders Paris Saint-Germain and left empty-handed, despite Matthieu Udal pulling one back 18 minutes from time, as Vitinha’s goal and a Kylian Mbappe brace sealed a 3-1 home triumph.
Now returning to action on the back of a two-week break in play, Metz will hope to correct their form with a home triumph in the round of 64 on Friday before welcoming Toulouse in the French top flight next Sunday.
They welcome a Clermont side who may have also welcomed the recent break and upcoming round of cup fixtures after a tough first half to their own Ligue 1 campaign.
Following their eighth-placed finish in the top flight last year, Friday’s visitors set out for another top-half finish this time around, but they currently find themselves bottom after 17 games with just 11 points on the board this term.
In those outings, Les Lanciers have managed just two victories, with the most recent coming against Lorient in mid-November, while their 10 losses include a 1-0 defeat at home to Friday’s cup opponents in August as Georges Mikautadze netted the only goal of the game.
Indeed, Pascal Gastien’s side return to action on the back of consecutive losses prior to the break, as they firstly fell short away at Marseille before hosting Rennes and falling to a 3-1 beating despite initially leading inside five minutes through Shamar Nicholson as Arnaud Kalimuendo, Desire Doue and Ludovic Blas netted second-half goals for their visitors.
Now returning to the Coupe de France for the first time this season after a disappointing exit at this stage last time around, Clermont will be desperate to kickstart their campaign with a victory to advance to the final 32 before returning to Ligue 1 action next week.
Metz form (all competitions):
Clermont form (all competitions):
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Laszlo Boloni will likely field a similar Metz starting XI from their trip to Paris Saint-Germain before the break in a 4-3-3 shape, although there are several enforced changes to make with Kevin van den Kerkhof, Lamine Camara and Fali Cande away on international duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.
In the absence of the former, who has been called up by Algeria, Ablie Jallow will likely come into the front line from the start having netted a team-joint-high tally of three goals so far this term.
He and Cheikh Sabaly may flank Joel Asoro up front, while Danley Jean Jacques, Kevin N’Doram and Habib Maiga should continue in a midfield trio in key man Camara’s absence.
Clermont have also lost several players to the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations, with goalkeeper Mory Diaw, defender Alidu Seidu and attacker Jeremie Bela all out of contention on Friday.
In the absence of Diaw, Massamba Ndiaye will come in between the sticks from the outset, while Florent Ogier should take Seidu’s place in a back three.
Elsewhere, experienced midfielder Maxime Gonalons will fight to return from the outset, while Shamar Nicholson will continue to lead the line, likely with support from Muhammed Cham and Jim Allevinah.
Metz possible starting lineup:
Oukidja; N’Duquidi, Traore, Herelle, Udol; Maiga, N’Doram, Jacques; Jallow, Asoro, Sabaly
Clermont possible starting lineup:
Ndiaye; Pelmard, Ogier, Konate; Magnin, Gonalons, Gastien, Borges; Cham, Nicholson, Allevinah
We say: Metz 2-1 Clermont
Both sides may be devoid of any confidence given their recent Ligue 1 form and have a chance to bounce back in the cup on Friday.
With home advantage, and international call-ups hitting the visitors harder, we back Metz to scrape over the line and book their place in the final 32.
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