Saturday 03 May 2014 – Coupe de France Final: Stade Rennais 0 EA Guingamp 2
A Coupe de France final you say? An all Brittany affair you say? Against Guingamp again you say? Surely Rennes won’t choke again will they? History won’t repeat itself will it? Er….yes as it goes! In Saturday night’s domestic cup showpiece, Guingamp were the ones to put in a performance of determination, positivity and desire as they repeated their 2009 success over Rennes with a comfortable as you like 2-0 victory.
Prior to kick off and the Stade de France was bathed in sunlight with a packed house full of raucous Bretons who having drunk the bars dry of beer, were in full cheer. After a pitch perfect performance of the Breton anthem Bro Gozh ma Zadou and a rousing La Marseillaise, both teams began showing plenty if cup final nerves.
It was the underdogs, Guingamp, who settled the quickest and produced three chances in quick succession through Claudio Beauvue, Christophe Mandanne and Christophe Kerbrat. It seemed clear that Guingamp’ game plan was to fly out of the blocks and not allow Rennes time on the ball. A very effective strategy as the Rennes midfield proved non-existent for large parts of the game. Guingamp were finding joy down the right wing, targeting the inexperience of Steven Moreira with Jonathan Martins-Pereira able to get a number of crosses in to Mustapha Yatabara but a combination of Costil and wasteful finishing meant that Rennes were able to survive until shortly before half time.
Despite having such an excellent season, it was unfortunate that the opening goal came from a Costil mistake as he failed to make a decent connection on a punch clear. The ball fell to Martins-Pereira, just inside the box and the right back fired a powerful first time shot, which took a slight deflection before into the top corner. It was a goal which Guingamp entirely deserved for their first half endeavours. Rennes had gone through the opening 45 minutes barely mustering a shot, passes were being mis-hit and nothing appeared to be clicking.
Rennes would have wanted to make a positive start to the second half but less than a minute in and Guingamp had doubled their lead. A cross from the excellent Steeven Langil found Yatabare inexcusably unmarked in the six yard to box to head home giving Costil no chance. The stuffing had been knocked out of Rennes before they’d had chance to think. It didn’t take long for the first change to be made as Paul-Georges Ntep came on the disappointing Kamil Grosicki on a night where nothing went right for the Pole.
For such a young player, a lot seemed to rest on the shoulders of Ntep but he seemed to cope as Rennes were finally able to produce some chances. Abdoulaye Doucoure, who had been marked out of the game so far, finally found space and produced a shot which Mamadou Samassa did well to turn behind for a corner. On the hour mark, Costil showed us all why he is making such a strong claim to be on the plane to Brazil in the summer. Another cross from the left found Yatabare and with a third goal seemingly on the cards, Costil dived to his left to produce a wonderful instinctive save to keep the deficit to just the two goals.
Despite going all out attack with the introduction of Nelson Oliveira, Rennes were unable to produce many more clear cut chances and in fact it seemed Guingamp were more likely to get another goal with Beauvue just firing wide. Into injury time and both teams had strong penalty shouts turned down by referee Tony Chapron as both Yatabare and Ntep seemed to be fouled in their respective opponents areas. To be fair, Rennes simply did not deserve a goal as a dreadful performance was finally ended with the final whistle. Against the odds, Guingamp had again upset the odds and secured victory in the Coupe de France final.
It’s such a familiar story for Rennes fans that the team just didn’t turn up. The midfield in particular were so disappointing and despite having plenty of set piece opportunities, the crosses were so poor. Let’s not take anything away from Guingamp though as they fully deserved their victory and I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate them, the players, staff and most of all the fans who helped produce such a carnival atmosphere in the capital and represented the Brittany region so well.
For Rennes, it doesn’t get much easier as they travel back to the capital on Wednesday to face Paris St Germain at the Parc des Princes with the home side attempting to secure the Ligue 1 title. All we can do is hope for a better performance and two final league games after that.
Stade Rennais: Costil, Danze (C), Boye, Armand, Moreira, Makoun (Pajot), Konradsen (Oliviera), Doucoure, Grosicki (Ntep), Toivonen, Alessandrini
EA Guingamp: Samassa, Martins-Pereira, Kerbrat, Sorbon, Leveque, Mathis (C), Sankhare, Beauvue (Atik), Langil (Giresse), Mandanne (Diallo), Yatabare
EA Guingamp: Martins-Pereira 37′, Yatabare, 46′
Man of the Match: I award it to the Guingamp team as it was too tough on such a big occasion to single out an individual