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Five games (for most) left. What to watch for.

Well, another week of Ligue 1 is fastly approaching us. And with every passing week, we get more of an idea what the Ligue 1 table is going to look like. This article is just going to look into possible scenarios regarding many of the teams in Ligue 1, and what this weekend’s games could mean.

FC Lorient  
  Girondins de Bordeaux

Right now, Lorient still have an outside chance of qualifying for the final Europa League spot. Last week’s 4-1 loss to Auxerre didn’t help their cause, but this weekend “The Fish” (as I call them, not a real nickname, that I know of) will be taking on a struggling Bordeaux team, who can only look at qualification to Europe as their only objective for the rest of the season.

Technically, Bordeaux is still in the running for the Ligue 1 title. If they win outright in their remaining six games, the will garner 18 points.  A Bordeaux loss, combined with a Marseille win against St. Etienne at the Stade Velodrome, will officially knock Bordeaux out of the Ligue 1 title race. While many of us have pretty much written Bordeaux off, this weekend it could be official.

Lorient look to have a little bit better of a chance at qualifying for a Europa League spot than Bordeaux does winning the Ligue 1 title. With a win against Bordeaux, Lorient will only be five points behind Lille, assuming Lille loses. Even so, a Lille win doesn’t mean that Lorient is out of the race for 5th place. But if Lorient were to lose this weekend this weekend, they would have to win the rest of their games outright and Lille lose the rest of their game. As far as points, Lorient could draw on of the last four games, but would have to somehow have to win all of those games by a 7 point margin, as Lille is currently at a +27 goal differential.

Paris Saint-Germain  
  Stade Rennais FC

Like Lorient, Rennes have an outside chance at making the Europa League. While PSG (and Monaco, in fact) have a very very very slim chance of making the Europa League through qualification, they will more than likely settle for winning the French Cup to secure their European position. So, will Rennes be playing a team that is more concerned about playing the French Cup on May 1st their position in Ligue 1 (since they probably won’t improve much during the next five games)?

Like Lorient, Rennes is chasing Lille for the last qualifying spot for the Europa League. While a Lille win doesn’t mean they are knocked out, at loss at the Parc des Princes doesn’t do Rennes any good either. Rennes would pretty much need to win all of their games outright and hope for Lille to lose the rest of their matches as well. And if there is a tie between Lille and Rennes, goal differential will benefit Lille, unless some miracle happens.

Le Mans UC 72  
  LOSC Lille Métropole

Lille currently sits in 5th place in Ligue 1, thus holding the final qualifying position determined by Ligue 1 standings. And, in addition, they will be playing a soon-to-be-relegated Le Mans team. But remember, Le Mans can always pull off the upset, ask Bordeaux.

So, remember when Lille had that streak of winning games by wide margins a few months ago? Well those give might become very beneficial when determining any tie-breakers. Lille currently has a goal differential of +27, with Marseille the only team to have a larger one at +29.

As of right now, the last qualifying spot is Lille’s to lose. The only team that realistically has a chance to beat Lille out for the 5th spot is Bordeaux, which could easily happen. Bordeaux has a very easy schedule for the remainder of the season, but as we have seen, Bordeaux plays better against the top teams while choking against the weaker teams. Lille, on the other hand, usually lose against the top teams, while easily handling the smaller teams. And Lille will close out the season playing two weaker teams (Nancy and Toulouse), and two stronger teams (Marseille and Lorient). So, who knows what will happen. This might be a “Dogue” fight until the last game.

AS Nancy Lorraine  
  Montpellier Hérault SC

Well, we can no longer say “when will it happen? When will Montpellier start falling?” The answer is “they won’t”. Now with only five games left, Montpellier are making a strong statement for European qualification. While not exactly having great matches the last few weeks, Montpellier’s early season success has given them a nice 59 points. Still, Lille and Bordeaux (which we already talked about earlier) can leapfrog Montpellier, making the southern French side wonder ‘what might have been.’

But with a win against Nancy on the road, Montpellier will look to be in good shape to qualify for Europe. They also can qualify for the last Champions League spot as well, as they will be playing Lyon in their next matchup.

Montpellier doesn’t have the easiest of schedules either. While they do play Sochaux, which will be without Charlie Davies the rest of the season, according to Sochaux president Alexandre Lacombe, they also have to play Lyon, PSG and Lorient. So, again, mark on your calendar…May 2nd…Montpellier vs. Lyon. Who would have though that this would be a ‘key matchup’ at the start of the year.

And, for Nancy, it looks like another year of midtable obscurity.

  Olympique Lyonnais

Well, because Lyon have bigger fish to fry (and I don’t mean Lorient), they will not be playing this weekend. They were scheduled to play Monaco. But their next game will be next week against Montpellier. So, really, Lyon can do nothing but sit and watch. And, like Bordeaux, they will have a game in hand after this week. But as we have also seen with Bordeaux, doesn’t mean that it is exactly a positive thing.

Toulouse FC  
  AJ Auxerre

If you like defensive matchups, this one will be fun for you. But if you don’t, it could get quite boring. Still, both Toulouse and Auxerre do have the player to put the ball in the net. Toulouse has Gignac and Sissoko.  Auxerre has Jelen, Niculae and, someone that I thought would have more goals, Kenyan Dennis Oliech.

Toulosue is out of everything. “Technically”, they can qualify for the Europa League, but Lille, Lorient, Rennes and Valenciennes would have to lose all of their matched, and Toulouse would have to win by an average score of 6-0. Yeah right, not happening!

Auxerre have everything to play for. Ligue 1 title, Champions League qualification. As of right now, anything is possible. And a loss against Toulouse doesn’t mean the end of the world. If Auxerre were to lose this weekend, they would still be in second place. And if Marseille win this weekend, next weekend’s matchup for Auxerre (against Marseille) would even be more important. Auxerre looks to gain the most out of this season, considering they started the season dead last with no goals. Yes, they were even lower than Boulogne and Grenoble.

Olympique de Marseille  
  AS Saint-Etienne

As of right now, Marseille are the giants of Ligue 1. Yes, their play in Europe might not have been the most impressive this season. And true, they might not have looked the best at the start of the year. But those close game, where they looked poor but yet won, are starting to pay off.

And if Marseille are the giants of Ligue 1, St. Etienne has to be considered one of the giant killers in the league. ASSE gave Bordeaux their first loss of the season. They also had impressive games against Montpellier, Marseille and Monaco. Therefore, while they might be fighting to stay in Ligue 1, you never know when the upset is possible. And when these two teams played earlier in the season, the game drew 1-1.

Basically, for Marseille, they would really have to ‘screw the pooch’ in order to mess this one up. While they do have some hard games against Lille and Rennes, they also play Grenoble and this matchup. And, like we talked earlier, next weekend’s matchup between Auxerre is going to set the tone for the rest of the season.


2 Responses

  1. And Marseille will win the french championship. They only got to beat Auxerre right now and they will win.

  2. Auxerre has looked impressive recently. I wouldn’t bet on a Marseille victory in that game as a ‘for sure’ thing. Still, I think OM will win it all. I guess I have to back off of my prediction at the start of the season.

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