Crystal Palace will round off their pre-season preparations when they host Toulouse on 4th August at Selhurst Park. Here we take a closer look at our opponents from the top-flight of French football.
What is their history?
Toulouse were only formed in 1970 after their previous incarnation’s players and top-flight spot were bought by Paris Red Star three years earlier. It took them until 1977 to reclaim the name and history of the former Toulouse side, who had won the French Cup in 1957 – their only major honour to date.
In 1982 they were back in Ligue 1, and after playing in Europe for the first time in 1986/87 when they defeated Diego Maradona’s Napoli team on penalties, they would flirt between the top two tiers throughout the remainder of the 20th century.
In 2001, financial problems saw them fall to the third tier but they were saved by businessman Olivier Sadran. Back-to-back promotions brought about their return to the top-flight and in 2006/07 they reached the UEFA Champions League for the first time ever, but were eliminated in the qualifying rounds by Liverpool. In total they have enjoyed five seasons competing in Europe.
The past few years have seen Toulouse struggle at the foot of the table, and they only avoided relegation on the final day in 2016. However, last term went even worse for them as they finished 18th in Ligue 1 and forced to have a promotion/relegation play-off against Ajaccio.
However they cruised to a 3-0 win in the first leg away at the Ligue 2 side, and then won the second 1-0 to ensure they remained in the top tier, but despite leading them to safety having taken over from Pascal Dupraz in January, former player Mickael Debeve departed following the season’s conclusion.
Where do they play?
Opened in 1937 ahead of the 1938 World Cup, the Stadium Municipal can hold 33,150 spectators after it was renovated for the 1998 tournament, when was the venue for England’s 2-1 defeat to Romania. It has also hosted games in Euro 2016 and the 2007 Rugby World Cup, and has also been used for Toulouse’s European Cup matches and also some French national team games.
Who’s in charge?
Alain Casanova has a long-held affiliation with the club, having played for them as a goalkeeper between 1992 and 1995, having also previously been on the books of Le Havre and Marseille, whom he was on the bench for when they reached the 1991 European Cup final.
Toulouse gave him his first taste of management in 2008 and he oversaw 290 games over a seven-year period where he oversaw the emergence of many notable players to the first-team including Andre-Pierre Gignac, Moussa Sissoko and Wissam Ben Yedder.
He then spent the 2016/17 season in Ligue 2 at Lens before being handed the chance to return to the south of France with Les Violets last week, replacing Debeve.
Who are their former notable players?
A number of players have been handed their starts in the game by Toulouse including French World Cup winners Fabian Barthez and Vincent Candella, and Tottenham Hotspur’s Sissoko who was recently voted by supporters into the club’s all-time XI to mark their 80th anniversary.
His Spurs teammate Serge Aurier spent three years at the club before joining Paris St Germain, and another current Premier League star also began at the Stadium Municipal in Etienne Capoue who currently features for Watford. Meanwhile Gignac made his breakthrough in French football with the club.
What about the current squad?
There is a former Eagle in Toulouse’s ranks in Yaya Sanogo, who spent the second half of the 2014/15 season on loan at Selhurst Park when he played 11 times under Alan Pardew, netting his only goal against Southampton in the FA Cup. He scored nine goals last season in 33 appearances.
Last season’s top scorer was another player with Premier League experience in Max Gradel who bagged 11 goals and recently made his loan move from Bournemouth permanent, while 19-year-old goalkeeper Alban Lafont became Ligue 1’s youngest ever goalkeeper aged 16 in 2015 and has played over 100 times since.
Three Toulouse players were called up for the World Cup, including Swedish duo Ola Toivonen – who scored against Germany – and Jimmy Durmaz, as well as Swiss defender François Moubandje, while they are captained by Christopher Jullien who has been linked with a move to the Premier League.