Sunday will see the conclusion of the race for fifth place and the final Europa League spot as Ligue 1 reaches its climax. Going into the final matchday there are four sides who theoretically stand a chance of securing that European berth for next season. Saint-Étienne v Bordeaux is a straight shootout between the pair in a winner takes all matchup whilst Rennes and Toulouse can also still make it but need a combination of events to occur.
Saint-Étienne v Bordeaux:
First up is the game at Stade Geoffroy Guichard where les Girondins can guarantee Europe with a win but ASSE will be desperate to use the chance to ensure that they do not squander the fantastic progress that they have made this season. For a while les Verts looked in control of the Europa League places but last week’s 3-2 defeat at Nancy has left them with their work cut-out heading into this fixture.
Coming into the match on a five game winning streak, Francis Gillot’s men are slight favourites but will be aware of the difficulties that Christophe Galtier’s men will cause them. If Bordeaux win then it caps a remarkable turnaround in a season that looked like it would end in mediocrity a few months ago and if Saint-Étienne succeed then it will be a just reward for the fantastic job Galtier has done in building a strong, competitive squad with a limited budget, scouting talent and a productive youth academy.
Prediction: 1-0 ASSE win just, but possibly not enough to secure fifth though if Rennes win big against Dijon as expected.
Rennes v Dijon:
Rennes although blowing hot and cold this season are still in with a great shout of securing European football for next term. Level on points with Saint-Étienne and only one goal worse off, Frédéric Antonetti’s men know they need a big haul from Sunday’s game and to hope that ASSE beat Bordeaux. So who better to face than their first opponents of the season Dijon who were easily dispatched 1-5 on the opening day of the season by the Bretons.
Les Rouges-et-Noirs come into the game on the back of three disappointing defeats yet still remain in contention whilst Dijon’s back-to-back draws have seen them stuck in the bottom three since the start of the month. It is a cruel final game to be faced with, especially with Rennes needing to win because a focused and determined Antonetti side are difficult opponents but when the pressure is off they are prone to complacency which would have given DFCO a great chance. A win would see them survive but given their away form their fans will probably not be holding their breath.
Prediction: 3-0 to Rennes which would secure fifth place and send Dijon down.
Toulouse v Ajaccio:
Toulouse had been great value all season until they reached April but four defeats and three draws in eight games have left their European dreams in tatters. Still technically able to qualify for the Europa League, le Téfécé need to win big and hope that other results go their way but it is unlikely that all of these things will happen on the same day.
Firstly, they have struggled in front of goal all season despite the presence of Emmanuel Rivière and Umut Bulut in the side. The Turk has only netted five goals all season whilst the Frenchman has the same amount despite playing fewer games thanks to injury problems. 37 goals all season is one of the lowest totals in Ligue 1 and lower than any of the bottom three despite boasting the meanest defence in the league.
Funny then that Alain Casanova’s men are up against the league’s most porous defence on a day that they really need to find the net big time! Ajaccio have shipped 61 goals so far this season despite the presence of Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa in goal and are travelling to Stade Municipal in search of their third away win of the campaign against a team that has only lost three home games all season. Also one of the league’s lowest scorers, les Ours have to win to ensure their survival in what is shaping up to be a tedious final day encounter.
Prediction: 0-0 and a game that lives up to the disappointing stats building up to it. Toulouse miss out on Europe capping a dour end to a relatively bright campaign but Ajaccio stay up by virtue of Caen’s defeat against Valenciennes.
Predicted Final Standings: