The Epic Conclusion to the Ligue 1 Season

Saturday will see Ligue 1 season come down to the wire, with the last round of fixtures set to take place. All 10 fixtures will take place simultaneously for sporting integrity. Here is the fixture list for Saturday’s action.

This preview will cover what is left to fight for, as six teams battle for the other four European spots, while two sides at the bottom will aim to avoid direct relegation.

European Race

Current Ligue 1 Season Points Totals

    • AS Monaco (68 points)
    • Olympique Marseille (68)
    • Stade Rennais (65)
  • RC Strasbourg (63)
  • OGC Nice (63)
  • RC Lens (61)

In what is the most thrilling European battle across the big 5 leagues, there are six teams hoping to join champions Paris St. Germain and Coupe de France winners Nantes in Europe next campaign. Both Monaco and Marseille will be guaranteed European football in the fall, as neither can finish worse than fourth. It is worth noting that the first tiebreaker for teams that are level on points is overall goal difference and then goals scored. Here are the scenarios for each team.

AS Monaco

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Round 38 opponents: RC Lens (away)

Highest and lowest possible position: second (highest), fourth (lowest)

Monaco is one of two teams that have Champions League football in their own hands. With a +25 goal difference (63 goals scored), they are level on points with Marseille for the second automatic Champions League place.

It is very simple for Les Monégasques; avoiding defeat will guarantee at minimum Champions League qualifying. Owning a four-goal advantage over Marseille, a win would almost surely guarantee them the second automatic Champions League place available to France.

If Marseille better Monaco’s result and Rennes do not win, then Philippe Clement’s side will finish third again, giving them the Champions League third qualifying round place. If both they and Marseille lose and Rennes win, Monaco would almost surely finish third on goal difference.

The only realistic way of the principality club to end up fourth is if they lose, Marseille avoids defeat, and Rennes wins. In that case Monaco would lose out of Champions League football on goal difference, having to be satisfied with Europa League football instead. They cannot finish lower than fourth.

With nine wins on the spin, things look good at the Stade Louis II. Another win basically assuring them Champions League football come September. Though with another team fighting for Europe awaiting them, this will be far from straightforward.

Olympique Marseille

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Round 38 opponents: Strasbourg (home)

Highest and lowest possible position: second (highest), fourth (lowest)

Marseille find themselves in a similar position to Monaco. Level on points with the Monégasques and with 59 goals scored, Jorge Sampaoli’s men only need a point to finish in the top 3 as well. If they better Monaco’s result, it will be second place and a return to the Champions League football after two seasons away.

It is almost a certainty that if they match Monaco’s result, it will be third place as well. Should they lose and Rennes win, it will be fourth spot for Les Olympiens. That is the worst that could happen for Sampaoli and co. A serious challenge awaits Marseille though, as they will welcome season revelations Strasbourg to the Stade Vélodrome.

Stade Rennais

Round 38 opponents: Lille (away)

Highest and lowest possible position: second (highest), sixth (lowest)

Despite the whopping 80 goals Rennes has scored so far, they find themselves three points behind Monaco and Marseille. Even more remarkably, Bruno Génésio’s side could still miss out on Europe.

That will be out of the question with a win and/or if one of Strasbourg or Nice fail to collect three points. If Rennes lose and one of the previously mentioned clubs win, then it will be a second successive season in the Europa Conference League, starting at the playoff round. Rennes will stay fourth if both Nice and Strasbourg drop points and the two teams above them do not lose, joining Nantes in the Europa League group stage.

Champions League football will return to the Roazhon Park with a win and at least one of Marseille and Monaco lose. In that case they would start in the third round of Champions League qualifying.

Finally, if both teams lose and Rennes win, then Les Rouge et Noir will join PSG in the group stage. Under any scenario where Rennes finishes level on points with a team, they will have the advantage due to their vastly superior goal difference.

The trip to Lille will not be easy for Rennes, as the outgoing champs will aim to finish their horrendous campaign on a high.

RC Strasbourg

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Round 38 opponents: Marseille (away)

Highest and lowest possible position: fourth (highest), seventh (lowest)

The season’s revelation, Strasbourg find themselves on the cusp of a return to European football. On 63 points and a +21 goal difference, Les Bleu et Blanc are in pole position to finish in the top 5.

A win will virtually guarantee them that top 5 place, as Nice enter Saturday level on points but with a goal differential six off. If Strasbourg collect three points in Marseille and Rennes lose, it will get even better for Julien Stéphan’s men, ending up fourth and claiming the Europa League place.

Should Nice collect more points than Strasbourg and/or Lens win and Les Bleu et Blanc lose, then it will mean no continental action for Strasbourg in the new season. It will be a tough ask, but with the year they have had, it is would not be a complete shock to see Strasbourg take the full three points at the Vélodrome.

OGC Nice

Round 38 opponents: Reims (away)

Highest and lowest possible position: fourth (highest), seventh (lowest)

What a turn of events for Nice, who find themselves on the outside looking in regarding Europe. After seeming like a sure top 5 finish, it is not completely in their hands anymore. Recent defeats to Lille in the league and Nantes in the Coupe de France final now means that Les Aiglons need to win and get some help on Saturday.

Tied on 63 points with Strasbourg and a +15 goal difference, a win might not be enough to clinch a European place. Should both sides win, it is very likely that Nice will miss out unless Rennes lose. In that case it would be Conference League football for Christophe Galtier’s men in the summer. If Nice earns more points than Strasbourg on Saturday night but Rennes avoid defeat, it would also mean Conference League action.

If Nice end up with three points while Strasbourg drops points and Rennes loses, that will give Les Aiglons fourth place and a Europa League spot. That is the only way for such to happen. A defeat, or a draw and a Lens win will see them finish seventh.

While opponents Reims do not have anything major to play for, they will be sure to make things difficult as a final win at home would give the supporters something to enjoy. It is also worth noting that Nice has a point less they are supposed to due to the incidents earlier in the season against Marseille.

RC Lens

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Round 38 opponents: Monaco (home)

Highest and lowest possible position: fifth (highest), eighth (lowest)

A second straight campaign in Ligue 1, things are looking like it will end similarly to a year ago for Les Sang et Or. The only other side that can qualify for Europe, a win is required plus quite a bit of help.

The only way for Lens to earn a place in Europe is by winning while Strasbourg lose and Nice fail to get three points. The reward would a place in the Conference League. Any other result would see Franck Haise’s men just miss out on European football once again.

Taking on an in-form Monaco side also in their own battles, it will be far from an easy three points for Lens. Should they find away into Europe, it would be quite the story given the situation.

Relegation Battle: Metz (31), Saint-Étienne (31)

The bottom three teams are already confirmed. Neither of Metz nor Saint-Étienne can escape the bottom three. The only question now is who will avoid direct relegation? The team that finishes third bottom will partake in a two-game playoff against either Sochaux or Auxerre to determine the final team in Ligue 1 next season.


Round 38 opponents: PSG (away)

Highest and lowest possible position: 18th (highest), 20th (lowest)

Metz has everything in their own hands. All they need better Saint-Étienne’s result and they will play the playoff. Les Grenats have a goal difference of -29, six better than that of their rivals. A win will almost surely put them in the playoffs. However, should they falter, it will be Saint-Étienne who could save themselves for now.

It goes without saying that meeting the league’s biggest club, worse away from home, is a tall order. It will require a Herculean performance from Frédéric Antonetti’s charges to avoid the disappointment of direct demotion.


Round 38 opponents: Nantes (away)

Highest and lowest possible position: 18th (highest), 20th (lowest)

In a direct relegation place via goal difference, Sainté needs help from the champions while getting the job done in Nantes. A defeat will surely end Les Verts here, as only a demolition job by PSG would partially save them then.

While Nantes do not have anything of note left to play for, the Coupe de France winners will just simply aim to go out on another high.

A word on Bordeaux. While they are mathematically not yet relegated, the likelihood of them avoiding the drop tomorrow is too low to consider. They would have to win while both Metz and Saint-Étienne would both need to lose. If that wasn’t enough, they would have to overturn a goal difference disadvantage of 12. While we have seen unbelievable things transpire in the past, the chances of this great escape transpiring is just too low.

With so much still on the line in Ligue 1, Saturday evening’s matches promises plenty of drama and excitement across the 10 matches.


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