Situation Report: Ligue 1, Ligue 2, Championnat National
So – many things sewn up, but many things to play for.
PSG are champions after winning 2-1 at Montpellier – they only needed a point to confirm their third consecutive title but Lyon made that academic by drawing 1-1 at Bordeaux anyway, confirming they will come second. That also means that the race for sixth is over, with Bordeaux winning that and thus taking the final Europa League spot (unless Auxerre usurps it by winning the Coupe de France).
At the other end of the table, after years of predicting Evian to go down and then finally giving up this season because they always somehow managed to bloody stay up – they’re relegated. A loss to Saint-Etienne condemns them to join Lens and Metz in Ligue 2 next season.
So – the only thing to be confirmed is third place, and who gets to come in at what stage of the Europa league in fourth and fifth. Currently Monaco are in the box seat for Champions League qualification on 68 (goal difference 24) with a potentially tricky trip to the Moustoir to meet Lorient in the final game; Marseille and Saint-Etienne are both on 66, with goal difference 31 and 20, and will play Bastia and Guingamp, respectively. So, it’s out of OM’s hands; you have to fancy their chances of a win, which will pile the pressure on Monaco, but you also have to back Leonardo Jardim and his team to keep it together for this final challenge.
Troyes are champions, and Gazelec Ajaccio are second, after a 3-2 win over Niort on Friday night. Whether or not that means they go up now depends on the LFP/DNCG and whether being able to accommodate only 36 people* in their stadium will meet league standards.
So, the race for third place – Angers are on 61 (+14) and play Nimes, who have successfully appealed against administrative relegation for that attempted match-fixing thing. Nancy and Dijon are both on 58 (+16 and +8 respectively) and play each other. So, after drawing 0-0 in the last game, Nancy have the best chance of making Angers angry, and Nimes may just have a point to prove given recent events.
Their escape from administrative relegation means that the relegation battle is back on! Arles-Avignon are bottom and Chateauroux (who only stayed up this season because of the Luzenac issue last summer) are also confirmed to drop down to the National. The three teams that could finish 18th are Orleans (37), AC Ajaccio (38) and Valenciennes (39). They play, respectively, Sochaux (dully safe as part of Team 52 Points), Arles-Avignon (may just have said ‘sod it’ and gone to the beach), and Gazelec (safe in second, and possibly still mildly hungover).
Red Star are champions, but there are three teams vying for the other two promotion spots. Paris FC should be safe on 65, just needing a point to make it absolutely certain; Bourg-Peronnas are on 63 and Strasbourg on 62. Interestingly the promotion race and relegation battle coincide rather.
Epinal will finish bottom, and joining them in the CFA next season will be Istres, relegated from Ligue 2 last season. There are three teams fighting to avoid joining them in the two other relegation places, including CA Bastia, currently in the dropzone, who are also looking at back-to-back relegations after crashing out of Ligue 2 with 24 points last term.
They will face Paris FC, and need to win to stand any chance of staying up, so given that their opponents will be focussed on not slipping up, CA Bastia look gone. Colomiers will face Strasbourg, who have to win to stand any chance of being promoted, so again, that doesn’t look good for their chances of survival. Chambly could stay up with a point but will be looking for the win at home against Istres to ensure that, just in case Colomiers do pull off a three-goal winning margin.
So, more uncertainty at the top than at the bottom, perhaps, but the promotion fight will also play a big part in confirming which teams go down.
The games to watch that have the most riding on them:
Ligue 1 – Lorient v Monaco, Marseille v Bastia (multiplex Saturday 23 at 20h BST)
Ligue 2 – Angers v Nimes, Dijon v Nancy, Orleans v Sochaux (multiplex Friday 22 at 19.30h BST)
National – Bourg-Peronnas v Boulogne, Strasbourg v Colomiers (multiplex Friday 22 at 19h BST)
*exaggeration for effect. LFP says capacity is 2885 (the smallest in the league) but that they still have a higher average attendance than Arles-Avignon.