Chambery’s French passion underlines renaissance of domestic cups

February 3, 2011

SOCCER-FRANCE/Fifth division Chambery’s stunning win over top-flight Sochaux to reach the French Cup quarter-finals has got a lot of people talking and I think it’s fair to say domestic cup competitions around Europe are enjoying a bit of a resurgence.

As this week proved with other games, Cup shocks are nothing new in France – something I knew before moving to Paris on Monday — but the fact newspapers and fans are stilll excited about Chambery’s run speaks volumes.

A packed little stadium for a game played in the midweek afternoon, a huge front page picture in L’Equipe and non-soccer fans mentioning the win in lifts all go to show that there is still magic in the Cup.

The FA Cup in England has taken a bit of a battering over recent years but minor league side Crawley Town being drawn at Manchester United in the fifth round and moneybags Manchester City needing 30 million pound striker Edin Dzeko to salvage a draw at third division Notts County has brought back a lot of romance.

In Italy, where the Italian Cup has been derided for years, top teams are suddenly playing their main sides in the competition and not rotating.

This is partly because of unusually stretched squads this season due to injuries but also Inter Milan’s treble last term showed how important the Cup could sometimes be. It’s also getting tight at the top of Serie A for Champions League places so a Europa League berth through the Cup could be very handy.

Real Madrid and Barcelona have been taking the King’s Cup very seriously and their predictable meeting in the final will be billed as one of the biggest ever battles between them given there is direct silverware at stake.

Domestic cup football suddenly got a whole lot livelier.

PHOTO: Soccer players of Chambery team react after defeating Sochaux during their French cup soccer match in Chambery, February 2, 2011. REUTERS/Robert Pratta

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