PARIS (Reuters) – Amateurs Arras will enter a new dimension if they can conjure an upset against big-spending Ligue 1 leaders Paris St Germain in the French Cup last 64 at the weekend, says defender Tony Kociszewski.
With no all-Ligue 1 clashes, the attention is on clubs in lower divisions hoping to emulate last year’s finalists Quevilly, a third-tier side who upset Olympique Marseille and Stade Rennes on their way to the Stade de France.
Players at the northern club Arras, battling to keep their spot in the fifth division, have been experiencing a new celebrity status since the draw offered them a prestigious clash against Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s PSG on Sunday (1945).
"It’s crazy at work. I can’t focus on my job even for two minutes because there’s always someone telling me : ‘So what, Zlatan?’ or ‘How is Zlatan the star going ?’," full back Tony Kociszewski told French radio RMC.
"Even the sales director asked me if he could keep on using the familiar ‘tu’ to talk to me or had to use the ‘vous’ because I’ve entered a new dimension.
"I think we would really enter a new dimension if we beat them," added Kociszewski.
Facing PSG and it’s star-studded squad has become a great challenge for most of the top-flight teams let alone players who have to make their living away from football.
PSG, who were dumped out of the League Cup by St Etienne in the quarter-finals, are seeking a ninth victory in the competition and are expected to be near full-strength.
"The French Cup is an important competition. We want to do well," coach Carlo Ancelotti told a news conference in Doha where the squad spent a few days during the winter break.
Brazilian recruit Lucas Moura, who made his debut in a 5-1 win in a friendly against Qatari club Lekwiya on Wednesday, could play his first official game after joining PSG this week on a five-year deal.
Holders Olympique Lyon start the defence of their title against third-tier Epinal on Sunday (1315), where they will have to deal with freezing cold in eastern France after they flew to Morocco to prepare for the second part of the season.
Forwards Jimmy Briand and Alexandre Lacazette could return from injury for Lyon, while playmakers Clement Grenier and Yoann Gourcuff are still doubtful after they missed the last three games in December, both because of thigh problems.
Record ten-times winners Olympique Marseille, who last lifted the trophy in 1989, face a trickier home tie on Sunday (1315) against 2009 winners Guingamp, fifth in Ligue 2.
(Reporting by Gregory Blachier; Editing by Tom Pilcher)
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