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Minnows les Herbiers face PSG in David and Goliath Cup Final
It’s being touted as perhaps the greatest mismatch of any cup final. Anywhere. Ever.
On Tuesday night minnows Les Herbiers Vendée Football will emerge to a capacity crowd of about 80,000 at France’s national stadium, le Stade de France.
Opposite, they will arguably one of the best teams on the planet, Paris Saint-Germain.
For a club used to playing in front of rarely more than 2,000 people, this is a big deal.
There is something of a tradition in the Coupe de France, which often sees David and Goliath finals, thanks to the organisation of the knock-out competition.
All registered clubs, on the French mainland and overseas territories, are allowed to enter.
And due to the early regional phases, amateur and semi-professional clubs, can often see a clear path to the latter stages of the competition.
This year, third division Les Herbiers, in the tradition minnows like Guingamp or Sochaux, have guaranteed their place in the annals of French football.
“We won’t be an embarrassment, even if we take a thrashing,” says Stéphane Masala, the club’s manager.
“It doesn’t matter how many goals we concede, we’ll go back home with our heads held high.”
The clash highlights the gulf between top flight clubs and local teams, who often struggle with cash flow problems.
Les Herbiers 2 million euro annual budget would not even cover PSG’s injured striker Neymar’s salary for a month.
According to the accountancy firm Deloitte, PSG is the world’s seventh richest club with a turnover of 500 million euros.
The figures suggest PSG will easily win the cup for the fourth consecutive year year, and record 12th time overall, but Les Herbiers are not worrying about that.
"That is not how we should look at this match," insists Stéphane Masala.
"I am a young coach and I am here to learn. I hope the players are there to learn and I hope PSG's great players will give us a lesson.”