As the Ligue 1 season draws near to a close, Robert Bhamber returns with a preview of the fixtures to be played in Week 36.
Friday: Bastia (11th) vs Lille (3rd) (19:30 GMT)
Week 36’s action starts on Friday evening as Bastia take on Lille at the Stade Armand Cesari. The hosts can enjoy a comfortable end to the season, as they sit safely in mid-table with no relegation fears. Frederic Hantz, however, will still want his team to end the campaign in the top half of Ligue 1, which they are currently only falling short of on goal difference.
Lille, meanwhile, know that a victory here will finally guarantee them third position in the table and the league’s last remaining Champions League qualification spot. The visitors are on an excellent run of form at the moment and will be expected to take all three points from this fixture.
– Bastia have conceded 30 first-half goals this season, more than any other team in the league.
– They have won just two of their last 11 league games.
– Lille are unbeaten in their last 12 league matches, winning seven and drawing five.
– They have won every league away game this season in which they have scored first.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 18, Lille won 2-1 at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy.
Sunday: St Etienne (4th) vs Montpellier (13th) (13:00 GMT)
St Etienne host Montpellier at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on Sunday as they look to secure a European qualification spot. Lille may be out of reach by the time this match kicks off, but St Etienne are also fighting to hold on to fourth position, with both Lyon and Marseille breathing down their necks. Heading into the weekend, the home side are two points clear of Lyon and seven ahead of Marseille.
Montpellier manager Rolland Courbis will be looking for his side to build on last week’s 2-1 victory over Toulouse, with the visitors needing just one more point from their last three games to ensure they will continue playing in Ligue 1 next season.
– St Etienne are unbeaten in their last six league games, winning three of them.
– They have lost just two home matches in the league this season, against Toulouse and Lyon.
– Montpellier have won just two of their last nine league matches.
– They have drawn 18 Ligue 1 matches this season, more than any other side.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 18, St Etienne won 1-0 away at the Stade de la Mosson.
Sunday: Toulouse (9th) vs Nantes (10th) (16:00 GMT)
Toulouse take on Nantes in a mid-table clash at the Stadium Municipal later on in the afternoon. Both teams have nothing left to play for this season except pride, but with only six points separating 7th and 14th in Ligue 1, a victory could propel one of these teams quite a bit higher up the table with only a couple of games left.
Alain Casanova will be hoping his team can put an end to their recent winless run and claim all three points, but Nantes boss Michel Der Zakarian will also view this game as winnable.
– Toulouse have gone six league games without a win, drawing three and losing three.
– They are unbeaten in league home games this season in which they have scored the first goal.
– Nantes have lost just once in their last eight league matches, 3-1 away to Monaco.
– They have lost all six league away games this season in which they have conceded first.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 18, Toulouse won 2-1 away at the Stade de la Beaujoire.
Sunday: Lorient (12th) vs Ajaccio (20th) (16:00 GMT)
Elsewhere, Lorient host relegated Ajaccio at the Stade du Moustoir. The home side secured their Ligue 1 status after picking up a point away at Rennes last week and can now enjoy a comfortable end to the season. The aim for Christian Gourcuff’s side now will be to try and end the campaign in the top-half; they are only one point away from Nantes in 10th heading into the weekend.
Ajaccio, meanwhile, will be looking to make the most of their three remaining games in France’s top flight. They have won only three league games all season but manager Christian Bracconi will be hoping to make that four before they return to Ligue 2 in August.
– Lorient have won just two of their last 14 league games, at home against St Etienne and away to Nice.
– However, they have only lost three times at home in the league this season, against Marseille, Toulouse and PSG.
– Ajaccio’s only away victory in the league this season came in Week30, when they won 3-2 at Valenciennes.
– They dropped into the relegation zone in Week 5 and never managed to escape.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 18, Lorient won 2-1 away at the Stade Francois Coty.
Sunday: Sochaux (18th) vs Nice (14th) (16:00 GMT)
Sochaux take on Nice at the Stade Auguste Bonal as they continue to fight to save themselves from relegation. The home side are four points away from Evian and Guingamp with three games left and manager Herve Renard will desperately be hoping his side can continue their good form of late and take all three points this weekend.
Nice need just one more point from their final three games to ensure their safety and Claude Puel will want his side to achieve that as soon as possible with a victory over Sochaux on Sunday. Once their Ligue 1 status is retained, Nice can then turn their attention to climbing the table, with a top-half finish not yet out of the question.
– Despite their position in the table, Sochaux have lost just one of their last seven league games.
– Their recent home form is particularly impressive; they are unbeaten in their last seven, winning five and drawing two.
– Nice ended a five game winless streak with a 1-0 victory against Reims last week.
– They have won just two league away games this season; against Lille and Marseille.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 18, Nice won 1-0 at the Allianz Riviera.
Sunday: Valenciennes (19th) vs Bordeaux (7th) (16:00 GMT)
Valenciennes face Bordeaux at the Stade du Hainaut in one of their final games in Ligue 1. The home side were effectively relegated last week due to their inferior goal difference but it will be mathematically confirmed this weekend if they fail to beat Bordeaux or both Guingamp and Evian gain a point.
Bordeaux, meanwhile, will be looking to hold on to their position in seventh in Ligue 1’s highly congested mid-table. It is unlikely that the visitors will be able to catch Marseille in sixth, of whom they are five points behind, so holding off the likes of Reims and Toulouse will be the aim of Francis Gillot for the final few weeks of the season.
– Valenciennes have lost each of their last four league games.
– They have been in the relegation zone since Week 5.
– Bordeaux’s six game unbeaten run ended last week after a 2-1 loss away to Lille.
– They haven’t won any of their last nine league away games, drawing four and losing five.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 18, Bordeaux won 2-1 at the Stade Cheban-Delmas.
Sunday: Reims (8th) vs Evian (17th) (16:00 GMT)
Reims welcome relegation-threatened Evian to the Stade Auguste Delaune. The home side are sitting comfortably in eighth position and will be looking to catch up with Bordeaux in seventh, who they are just three points behind. However, manager Hubert Fournier will be more concerned with his side’s bad form in recent weeks and he’ll be hoping to put that right with a win at home against Evian this weekend.
Evian, meanwhile, are just four points above the relegation zone and will be hoping to take advantage of the fact that Reims have nothing really left to play for this season. The visitors know they can secure their Ligue 1 status this weekend if they win and 17th placed Sochaux lose.
– Reims haven’t won any of their last eight league games, drawing two and losing five.
– They are, however, unbeaten at home in the league this season in matches where they have scored first.
– Evian have lost their last two league games; 1-0 away to PSG and 2-1 at home to St Etienne.
– They haven’t won any of the 10 league away games that they have conceded the first goal in this season.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 18, these two teams drew 1-1 at the Parc des Sports.
Sunday: Marseille (6th) vs Lyon (5th) (20:00 GMT)
Marseille take on Lyon at the Stade Velodrome in a crucial game in the battle for European qualification. The home side are five points behind Lyon and seven behind St Etienne heading into the weekend, so a victory is vital if they are to stand much chance of qualifying for next season’s Europa League.
Lyon know that a victory here will not only close the gap on St Etienne in fourth, but also mathematically knock their opponents out of contention for European qualification. Both sides have been in decent form of late, so this should be a close game.
– Marseille are unbeaten in their last five league games, winning two and drawing three.
– They have not dropped lower than sixth in the table all season.
– Lyon have lost just three of their last 20 league matches, winning 11 and drawing six.
– They are unbeaten in their last six league away games, with four wins and two draws.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 18, these two teams drew 2-2 at the Stade de Gerland.
Wednesday: Monaco (2nd) vs Guingamp (16th) (18:00 GMT)
Week 36 continues on Wednesday due to Guingamp and Rennes participating in the Coupe de France final this weekend. The cup finalists travel to the Stade Louis II to take on second-placed Monaco, where they will have to turn their attention back to saving themselves from relegation.
Monaco now have Champions League qualification in the bag and Guingamp will be hoping to take advantage of the fact their opponents have nothing left to play for this season by claiming all three points from this game. The visitors sit just four points above the relegation zone with three games remaining, but can retain their Ligue 1 status if they were to defeat Monaco and Sochaux were to lose to Nice.
– Monaco did not drop below fourth in the table all season.
– They have lost just one home game in the league this season; 2-1 against Valenciennes in Week 19.
– Guingamp ended a five game losing streak in the league last week with a 1-0 home win over Valenciennes.
– They have lost each of their last three away league games.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 18, Monaco won 2-0 away at the Stade du Roudourou.
Wednesday: PSG (1st) vs Rennes (15th) (20:00 GMT)
PSG know they can retain their championship in front of their own fans on Wednesday with a win over Rennes. It is possible that PSG could be crowned champions before this match even kicks-off if Monaco were to fail to beat Guingamp earlier in the day, but the capital club can wrap up the league here with a win regardless of other results.
Rennes, meanwhile, aren’t mathematically safe from relegation just yet; they are six points above the bottom three with three games remaining. They will be severe underdogs heading into this match, but manager Philippe Montanier would much prefer his team to be safe before next week’s encounter with Sochaux.
– PSG have won their last seven league home games.
– They have been top of Ligue 1 since Week 10.
– Rennes have lost just one of their last six league matches; 1-0 at home to Monaco.
– They are yet to win an away league game this season after conceding first, drawing two and losing seven.
– In the reverse fixture in Week 18, PSG won 3-1 at the Stade de la Route de Lorient.