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Coupe de France Part 2

Let’s now look at the results of this competition since its foundation. Paris has often been criticised for being a one football club city. Regarding the Coupe de France this couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only have modern-day big shots Paris Saint-Germain won the second biggest total of French Cups (8 times) but no less than 5 other Paris-based clubs have won the competition: Racing Club Paris, Red Star (5 times each), CASG Paris (twice), Olympique Paris and Club Français (once). If you add this all up, Paris has won the Cup 22 times.

It is no wonder then that Paris won 7 of the opening 8 French Cups, Marseille winning the other one in 1924. The Cup stayed south in the 1920s with Montpellier, Sète and Cannes all winning it once. The cup was pretty much passed around till Lille won the trophy 3 years in a row just after WWII. Lille were again the only side to win it twice in the 1950s as no determined side could win it year after year although the decade was marked by Le Havre being the first side from the lower leagues to win the competition in 1959. The 1960s saw some kind of consistency with Lyon, Monaco and Saint-Etienne winning it twice each. The 1970s were marked by the dominance of Saint-Etienne in general as they won it 4 times in 8 years, Marseille won it twice while there was a first time for Nancy and Nantes. The 1980s saw two sides winning the trophy back-to-back: Paris Saint-Germain (enjoying their first French Cup) in 1982 and 1983 and Bordeaux in 1986 (year when a Division d’Honneur side, FC Evry, knocked out first division outfit Toulon 1-0) and 1987. Metz and Monaco also won it twice The 1980s also is the decade where Marseille last won the French Cup in 1989 for the 10th time (a record).

The 1990s was soured by French football’s sole traumatic stadia experience: the fall of the stand at Armand-Césari Furiani stadium, home of Bastia Sporting Club on May 5th 1992. The game was a semi-final and the Corsicans were hosting neighbours across the river Marseille, a big game then for any team in the country but more so for Corsica. The managers at the club were smelling the green and decided to install a temporary stand able, supposedly, to fit 10,000 people without checking if the stand was safe or not. The “construction works” were finished just in time for kick-off and, as the referee was about to start the game, the stand began trembling. It was available for everyone to see as well. The game was on a Tuesday as every round between the round of 64 and the final is in midweek (contrary to England who play every single round at the weekend which forces games to be postponed (I actually agree with that policy myself even though I admire the English’s stuborness in keeping tradition intact)). Added to the fact that the 8PM news is religiously watched in France by everyone and that the game was the next program that particular night, most French people were witnessing the temporary stand slowly but surely collapsing making 18 dead and more than 2,300 wounded. The game was called off of course as was the 1992 edition. The Furiani disaster will be celebrating its 20th birthday this May and the FFF are taking a strong stance to respect it: this year’s final was supposed to be played on May 5th, a funny coincidence, but the FA decided to play it a week before on April 28th.

The rest of the decade was dominated by Paris Saint-Germain who celebrated their 3rd, 4th and 5th Coupe de France. Nice won their 3rd and Monaco their 5th. Lest we forget Nîmes’ great Cup run in 1996 eliminating top tier outfits Saint-Etienne, Strasbourg and Montpellier only to get beaten by Champions Auxerre, 2-1 in the final.

The last decade was certainly the ones where the most shocks happened. Who can forget Calais who became the first division 4 outfit to reach the final. It probably is the most famous of upsets in the competition’s history. In 1999/00 they reached the final by beating top tier sides Lille on penalties 7-6 after a 1-1 draw, Strasbourg 2-1 in the quarter-finals and Bordeaux 3-1 after extra-time in the semis. Just like Nîmes though, they lost in the final to Nantes 2-1. Calais’ exploits were followed in 2007 by FC Montceau Bourgogne who knocked out two Ligue 1 sides: Bordeaux (2-2, 5-4 on pens) and Lens (1-0). They fell at the semi-final stage by losing to Sochaux 0-2 who ended up winning the tournament. The following season in 2007/08, a division from the rank bellow (CFA 2) were the ones to create an upset by knocking a Ligue 2 side (Gueugnon, 1-0 win) and two Ligue 1 sides (Nancy, 2-1 win after extra-time and Marseille, 1-0 win). They got knocked out by PSG in the quarter-finals. In 2008/09, it was a Ligue 2 outfit that surprised most by winning the whole thing. 50 years after Le Havre in 1959, Guingamp became the second lower league side to win the Coupe de France knocking out Ligue 1 outfits Le Mans 1-0 in the round of 16, Toulouse 2-1 in the semis despite being down to ten men and beating Rennes in the final 2-1 (a final notorious for having the highest ever attendance: 80,056). Just like Millwall in 2004 and Birmingham City this season, a lower division outfit was representing a country in Europe. Guingamp’s European tour was short lived though. They lost in the play-offs for the group stage to Hamburg 2-8 on aggregate.

No such thing happened 2 seasons ago or last season but a record was broken last January as half of the Ligue 1 teams entering the competition got knocked out. Unlucky this season though: only 4 sides got knocked out by lower league opposition and only one of them was non-league (Toulouse losing at Gazélec Ajaccio 1-0).

You win some, you lose some.

Philip Bargiel

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