Lyon’s Alexandre Lacazette will not underestimate Valenciennes in cup semi-final

By Sports Desk April 01, 2024

Lyon will bid to reach their first Coupe de France final for 12 years when they host Ligue 2 strugglers Valenciennes on Tuesday.

A likely clash against Paris St Germain is the prize if they can overcome a team 28 places below them in the French league pyramid.

Lyon lost to Nantes at the same stage of the competition last season, and club captain Alexandre Lacazette admits it is a painful memory.

“We still have a lot of regrets from last season, and we don’t want to repeat the same mistakes,” Lacazette said during a pre-match press conference.

“We need to play. Last year we had that fear. This time we have to play to avoid regrets like last year.

“They (Valenciennes) are the smallest of the four teams (left in the competition), but it is still a semi-final and we have to respect them.

“We understand that with the atmosphere and environment, if we are serious, things will go well, but we have to be careful.

“It is pleasing to be here today, but we want to reach the final for everything we have experienced since the start of the season.

“We need to stay focused on the objective. I think in these kinds of matches there is no need for grand speeches. All players will be motivated to give their best.”

Lyon could be boosted by the return of Clinton Mata, who is available after serving a ban, and manager Pierre Sage must decide whether to field Lucas Perri or Anthony Lopes in goal.

Lopes is Lyon’s number one goalkeeper, but Perri has been Sage’s choice for the cup games and he excelled in the quarter-final victory over Strasbourg, which went to a penalty shoot-out.

Valenciennes go into the semi-final clash – their first last-four appearance since 1970 – at Groupama Stadium as rank outsiders.

They are currently 11 points adrift at the bottom of Ligue 2, and have failed to score a goal in four league games since knocking out quarter-final opponents Rouen.

Despite their miserable league form, though, Valenciennes have thrived in cup action, defeating Paris FC and Saint-Priest before facing Rouen.

But Ahmed Kantari’s team face a huge step up against Lyon, with the cup-tie unfolding against a backdrop of Valenciennes effectively being resigned to a place in French football’s third tier next season.

Kantari will hope he can select his strongest available team, given the magnitude of Valenciennes’ task, but Allan Linguet could be doubtful because of a foot problem.

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