From the guillotining of a king to a Paris Derby next season, there is still all to play for in France on beIN SPORTS
1) The Race for Europe
The lucky team that finishes in second in Ligue 1 wins a golden ticket straight to the group stages of next season’s Champions League. The side ending in third reaches the qualifying rounds. Marseille are currently in that second-placed hot seat enjoying a six-point cushion with four rounds to go in Ligue 1.
This advantage sees the statistic eggheads at Opta giving Marseille an 87.5% chance of Le Velodrome hosting Champions League soccer next season. Which is a spectacular sight. However, Marseille are still very active in Europe with a semifinal double-header against Feyenoord in the UEFA Conference League, doubling the workload for Jorge Sampaoli and co compared to his rivals.
Those teams gathering behind Marseille are ready to take advantage of any slip-up. Rennes are currently in third, swatting all-comers aside having racked up 75 goals this season, just one less than PSG. Monaco are equal on points with Rennes and have struck form at just the right time with six Ligue 1 wins in a row to boost Philippe Clement’s side from also-rans to thoroughbreds.
Some very big fish are pushing for a Europa League spot next season but running out of time to achieve this. That panic list includes the now-former Ligue 1 champions, Lille, who have struggled to come anywhere near repeating last year’s remarkable season. Lyon are another side set to be without European soccer next season unless Peter Bosz’s talented squad can hammer out four wins from four in the final run-in. Nice are also chasing a European spot next season, although it could have been the Champions League were in not for a recent slump in form. The league’s Most Valuable Team, Strasbourg, are looking to end a remarkable campaign with a Top-5 flourishing finish.
2) A battle for survival for two giants
In Ligue 1, the two teams finishing bottom go straight down to Ligue 2. No reprieve. Off with their heads. The side finishing third-from-bottom faces a playoff against a team from Ligue 2 to decide its fate. While Metz looks doomed to finish bottom of the standings this season, former Ligue 1 champions Bordeaux and Saint Etienne are facing a major battle for survival over the next four rounds. Bordeaux are certainly the least equipped having conceded 84 goals while Saint Etienne certainly have the talent to stay up, but lack the consistency.
3) Kylian Mbappe vs. The Rest of France
If there is one certainty in Ligue 1, the division’s top scorer will be a French player. However, it’s not necessarily the one you think. Kylian Mbappe is heading the chart with 22 goals, but he is being pursued by a pack of four fantastic French forwards. The biggest challenge is Rennes striker, Martin Terrier, who is on 21 goals to more than double his best ever career season so far and help push Rennes potentially into the Champions League next season.
Were Mbappe to slow down in the final matches of the campaign with PSG already crowned champions (99.9% not going to happen) the smart money might be on Wissam Ben Yedder to top the charts. This classic French striker is once again hitting his stride with 20 Ligue 1 goals this season to bring his tally in three campaigns with Monaco to a remarkable 58 strikes.
4) A classic Coupe de France Final
Another spot in the Europa League next season will be opened up for the winner of the Coupe de France final on Saturday 7th May. Nice and Nantes are up for the title. The former is marshalled by Christophe Galtier, the coach of title-winning Lille last season, and is looking to put a flourish on the first season of an ambitious project on the Mediterranean.
Nice have not won the Coupe de France since 1997, a similar gap in silverware-lifting as Nantes who are looking to end a 22-year-wait for the trophy and crown a solid campaign for the team lead by former PSG coach, Antoine Kombouare.
5) A Paris Derby next season?
When the Ligue 1 campaign wraps up there will still be business to be done to find out which 20 teams will be back for the new year. 19 will have been decided at that point. Toulouse have already booked their spot, probably in place of Metz. However there is still all to play for in the race to clinch the second promotion spot in Ligue 2 and also win through to a playoff final against the team finishing third-from-bottom in Ligue 1. One of those teams is Paris FC, to set up the tantalizing battle of the have’s and the have-a-lot-less’s next season in the French capital.
Action from Ligue 2 can be seen exclusively for free on beIN XTRA.