Coupe de France preview: Eric Abidal expected to make Monaco return
Eric Abidal is set to start for Monaco in Wednesday's Coupe de France quarter-final against Lens.
Last Updated: 25/03/14 3:56pm
Told he was not playing against Lille on Sunday, club captain Abidal then shocked manager Claudio Ranieri by leaving the Stade Louis II rather than staying on to support the team.
The 34-year-old former France defender's behaviour raised questions about his future at the club, but Abidal has apologised and met with club vice-president Vadim Vasilyev to discuss the aberration.
The upshot is that Ranieri will select the veteran former Barcelona player for cup duty, with the Monaco boss saying: "There is no problem with Abidal. There has been a meeting with Vadim. He gave his excuses. It's done.
"He's going to play. I'm not one to be resentful. But his excuses were essential. I wasn't expecting that attitude, even if sometimes I can understand it. But the captain always has to be with the team."
Abidal has not played for Monaco since the February 9 match against Paris St Germain, largely due to illness.
Another notable inclusion for the principality side will be goalkeeper Sergio Romero, the goalkeeper hoping to start for Argentina in the World Cup this summer.
Romero would have hoped for a full season in Monaco's first team after joining from Sampdoria last summer, but quite the opposite has been the case, with Danijel Subasic keeping him out of the Ligue 1 line-up.
Needing to impress ahead of Brazil 2014, Romero, who has been Monaco's regular goalkeeper in cup competitions, is hoping to finish the season with a medal.
"When you are second choice, you have to be mentally strong to stay confident and motivated," Romero said in a press conference, according to Monaco's website.
"I'm always ready to play. I'm happy and calm and always 100%, I never turn off or skip a training session, I love my work.
"I'm a competitor, I love challenges, I want to show what I can do against Lens. We want to go to Paris, play the final and win this Coupe de France. Winning the World Cup is every footballer's dream. But for the moment, I'm focused on the Coupe de France."
Lens, who are close to securing a return to the top flight as they enjoy a strong Ligue 2 campaign, have knocked Lyon and Bastia out of the cup already.
Monaco, second in the elite league, present them with stiff opposition, but Lens are not fearful.
Their coach, Antoine Kombouare, said: "This won't be a bonus match at Monaco but a true quarter-final. We want to continue our adventure even if we know that it will be difficult."
Also on Wednesday, Cannes have a rare moment in the spotlight as they tackle Guingamp.
The club that gave Arsene Wenger, Patrick Vieira, Zinedine Zidane and Gael Clichy a leg up in the football world no longer compete among the French elite, toiling instead well down the rungs in CFA Group C, big fish in a regional amateur league, possessing a squad peppered with former top-flight players down on their luck.
Their last three results show goalless draws against Le Pontet and Tarbes, and a defeat to Pau.
Guingamp only became a professional club 30 years ago but are now a Ligue 1 side, and Jocelyn Gourvennec's team should survive their first campaign back in the highest tier of the French game, with their seven-point cushion to the drop zone suggesting all their focus can go on reaching the last four in the cup.
Moulins and Angers, both from outside the top flight, were getting the cup quarter-finals under way on Tuesday evening, with Rennes and Lille going head to head on Thursday.