Epinal - Olympique Marseille (0-2): True to formtue 23 jan at 22:52
That's the beauty of the Coupe de France. It takes big teams into towns that they haven't visited for twenty years or more, and where they won't return for another two decades. However, at kick-off, the gulf between the divisions and the players disappears, because the fans are so excited, because the pitch is difficult, and because the professional team needs to rest its squad. That's what Rudi Garcia did, in light of the big match coming up for Marseilles on Sunday evening, when they will be hosting last year's champions in the league. Of the squad that played Caen, only four remained (Sarr, Rolando, Zambo Anguissa and Lopez) to take the pitch of the La Colombière stadium for the round of 32 in the Coupe de France.
As such, the team that started the match for Olympique was something of an unknown quantity. Undoubtedly, for that reason, as well as a pitch that quickly became difficult to play on, and a highly motivated opposing team, Pelé and his team mates had real difficulties in building and developing their match play. Despite a few flourishes from Ocampos, particularly in the forward attack, they failed to set up even the beginnings of a shot on goal during the first half - similar to their matches against Strasbourg and Caen.
The position was similar after the break. Marseilles had possession of the ball but struggled to get close to Robin's nets. Epinal's players maintained a tight, disciplined formation and withstood the pace physically. Once again, Ocampos, broke through on the right and crossed to Sanson, whose shot narrowly went to the side of the opponents' goal. It was the best opportunity that Olympique had had in nearly an hour of play. Over the course of the next few minutes, the pitch deteriorated even further and became more and more difficult. Marseilles' technical players quite simply struggled to create any opportunities.
Thauvin and Germain came on to freshen up the squad. The former Monaco player broke the deadlock with a pass to Lopez, which was blocked by Epinal defence. He resumed down the left, chipping the ball into Robin's goal. The first shot on target hit its mark!
The locals played impressively during the final ten minutes, but Olympique pulled rank and didn't get bogged down in the play. They even doubled their lead in extra time when Sanson finished off Thauvin's cross. It all worked out for OM, though it was a close-run thing. What mattered was that they qualified against a brave, combative Epinal side. The adventure in the Coupe de France continues for Rudi Garcia and his squad!