The oldest of French football competitions, more than a century old, re-enacts its a priori unbalanced duels, sometimes cruel for the "Petits Pouches" with big dreams, but also at the origin of incredible happy endings for the amateur world.

Last season, the "magic" of the Cup operated with FC Versailles 78, then in National 2 (the equivalent of the 4th division), who defeated Toulouse in particular and reached the semi-finals.

La Berrichonne de Châteauroux, not at best with a 14th place in National, would like to imitate the course of the Yvelinois.

The gap nevertheless seems abysmal against the Parisian ogre, probably determined to redeem himself after his first defeat of the season, Sunday in Lens (3-1).

However, there may be something to play against the capital club, deprived of many stars: Marco Verratti is suspended, Lionel Messi, who has just returned from Argentina, will not play, Achraf Hakimi and Kylian Mbappé are on leave.

And Neymar, hit in an ankle during the World Cup, will be spared.

"There are absentees for X reasons but tomorrow we will have a very competitive team", commented coach Christophe Galtier on Thursday, promising playing time "to certain young people".

A new disappointment would raise the temperature at PSG, surprised by Nice (0-0, 6-5 pens) last year at the stage of the round of 16.

Heavy atmosphere in Lyon

The Riviera club, finalist of the previous edition, begins its new campaign on Saturday (6:00 p.m.) in Auvergne against Le Puy, resident of National 1.

Same day, same time, defending champion Nantes will be in Normandy to face AF Virois, representative of the fifth division (N3).

The match will be played at the Michel-d'Ornano stadium usually occupied by Caen, eliminated for having eliminated a player suspended in the previous round against Vire.

Marseille, current third in L1, will make its debut on Saturday (3:30 p.m.) against Hyères, an N2 club led by the media Mourad Boudjellal, furious with the programming of the match in Martigues.

At the same time, Lyon will be on their side looking for a breath of fresh air against Metz (L2), while their most fervent supporters rail against the bad dynamics of the club recently transferred to the American flag.

Olympique Lyonnais players after the home defeat against Clermont in the league, January 1, 2023 © JEFF PACHOUD / AFP

The two main groups denounced "a parade of smug, characterless, soulless guys who wallow in mediocrity", Wednesday in a joint statement, "the starting point for future actions".

The weekend will end on Sunday (8:45 p.m.) in Lille with an L1 duel against Troyes.

The meeting will be preceded by the draw, at 8:00 p.m. at the co-broadcaster beIN Sports, for the 1/16 finals.

© 2023 AFP