Strasbourg and Guingamp will contest the final of the Coupe de la Ligue on Saturday and nobody could have seen this as a final match up for France’s secondary cup competition.
Strasbourg will start as slight favourites and they did punch above their weight earlier in the Ligue 1 season, but have faltered of late and slipped down to 10th place. Indeed any chances of finishing in a European spot seem distant so winning the Coupe de la Ligue looks to be the only realistic chance for the club of qualifying for the Europa League. They last won a major trophy in 2005 and the famed club will be looking to secure their 4th title overall.
One man that will be looking on will be former Arsenal manager and great Arsene Wenger, who not only was born in Strasbourg but also played for the club and there is no doubt who Wenger will be supporting come the weekend. Wenger will be in official attendance for the game to be played in Lille.
Strasbourg have done brilliantly well to get to the final where they have had to knock out the likes of Marseille, Lyon and Bordeaux, that is no mean feat and whilst the club have had an average season to say the least they have really shone in this competition.
But if you think Strasbourg have got to this final against all odds, think again when we look at their opponents Guingamp. The club have been extremely poor this season in Ligue 1 where they have been rock bottom for the majority of the season. Resigned to relegation months back they are currently in the best form of their season and have decided to fight. They have climbed back up to 18th place but are still 7 points from safety and the next few weeks will be crucial for their chances of playing In Ligue 1 next season.
Guingamp have had to climb their own personal Mount Everest and incredibly went to Paris in the quarter finals and knocked out PSG in one of the biggest shocks of the season. Whilst sceptics could feel that PSG were not taking the competition seriously this is completely far from the truth as the Parc des Princes crowd were left in stunned silence.
Guingamp followed that up with a penalty shoot out win against a rejuvenated Monaco under Leonardo Jardim’s return and the rest as they say is history. In truth both clubs come into the final as winners and this should be celebrated. It is refreshing not to see the likes of PSG, Marseille or Lyon here.
Because of this the final remains wide open and we should see a very entertaining game of football where one clubs season could go from being average to great.