As one of the lowest-ranked teams left in the competition, fourth-tier Versailles will aspire to pull off a giant killing against Ligue 2 outfit Toulouse in the last-16 of the Coupe de France on Saturday.
The hosts made it this far courtesy of a narrow 1-0 win over fifth-tier Cannes, while their opponents thrashed La Roche VF 5-0 in the last-32 stage.
The ultimate goal of a return to Ligue 1 is firmly within Toulouse’s grasp, with the Ligue 2 leaders losing out on a place in this season’s top flight to Nantes in the relegation/promotion playoffs last term, but their momentum took an unexpected hit against Bastia last time out.
Firing 16 shots compared to their opponents’ six, Toulouse were forced to settle for a point in a 0-0 draw with the bottom-half Bastia outfit in a bad-tempered clash which saw both teams finish the game with 10 men, but they still lead the way at the top of the Ligue 2 rankings.
Philippe Montanier and his crop will be looking over their shoulder, though, as second-placed Ajaccio sit just one point adrift with a game in hand, but focus now turns to the Coupe de France, where Toulouse have not exactly beaten the lower-league sides with any real conviction.
Les Violets thrashed fellow second-tier side Nimes 4-1 en route to the last-16, but only a Rafael Ratao strike got them over the line against fifth-tier Cannes, and they needed a penalty shootout to get past minnows Libourne back in November.
However, Motanier’s side enter this game on a seven-game unbeaten streak as they aim to make the quarter-finals for the second year running, but Versailles are daring to dream.
As well as making waves in the Coupe de France as one of only two teams outside Ligue 1 or Ligue 2 still going strong – alongside Bergerac Perigord – Versailles have also been virtually unplayable in Championnat National 2 action this term and travel to the second-tier leaders with the wind firmly in their sails.
The visitors’ top-of-the-table clash with Lorient II last Saturday ended with the spoils shared in a 1-1 draw, which ended Versailles’ six-game winning run across all competitions, but their Coupe de France run has sent tongues wagging.
Granted, this will be the visitors’ first true test in the tournament this season – they are yet to face a side in the third tier or above – but three clean sheets from their last three in the Coupe de France ought to give the travelling party the faith that a shock result is not beyond the realm of possibility.
Versailles have also lost just once away from home in all competitions this season – winning six of their last eight on the road – but Youssef Chibhi’s side will need to produce something truly special to shock the French footballing landscape here.