It’s fair game. Three days before a Franco-French confrontation between Clermont and Toulouse, Sunday, at the Michelin stadium, in the quarter-finals of the European Cup, the managers of the two teams are struggling to reject the pressure in the camp of the ‘other. It’s the famous game of “you will be the favorite”, so predictable at this stage of the competition.
To Franck Azéma, who said earlier this week that Stade Toulousain was “Favorite archi of the meeting” because he dominates the Championship, Ugo Mola replied this Thursday morning at a press conference based on historical facts and statistics: “We haven’t won in Clermont since 2002 (16-19). I think it was the end of Jérôme Cazalbou’s career (current high level manager, present at his side). Then there is the number of victories in the quarterfinals away in the European Cup. On average, it’s one in four, so 25%. Also, when you haven’t won in one place in twenty years and you have a one in four chance of winning on the outside statistically, well … But I’m okay with taking on the role of whoever you want, and I leave moreover our friends from Clermont with this role of outsider which suits them so well. “
“We would have preferred to play an English, Irish or Welsh team
Ugo Mola, Toulouse manager
One thing is certain, this duel will oppose different approaches to rugby and different working methods, with equally distinct player profiles on the pitch. “These are matches that we would like to play very often, in fact, because every time we come out of a match against Clermont, we have learned a lot of things, watch Mola. Our last two meetings ended in a draw (20-20, 2018-2019 season) and a loss of 3 points (33-30, at the start of the season). We are getting closer to them but we are still far away. It’s going to be complicated. ”
Toulouse is however used to shine in the European Cup against French clubs. He thus won three of his four continental titles by taming in the final an opponent from his domestic Championship (Perpignan, 22-17 in 2003, the Stade Français, 18-12 ap in 2005 and Biarritz, 21-19 in 2010). “But this is not a final but a quarter-final, stresses Mola. As Morgan Parra said, we would all have preferred to play an English, Irish or Welsh team, but it turns out there are five French teams in the quarterfinals. At the exit, there must be some who sacrifice themselves. In this case, it is Clermont and Toulouse, and UBB and Racing. After that, we had never won in Munster before getting there last weekend. Perhaps our karma of the moment will therefore allow us to break with the classic statistics of a Clermont-Toulouse or a European quarterback abroad … “
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