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The hunt is on ! / France / Ligue 1 / April 4, 2022 /

The race for the podium had rarely been so hotly contested eight days before the end of the championship. Behind OM, which took a small option this weekend, five to seven teams can still claim a place in the top 3. The fight promises to be terrible.

The international break, rich in emotions, and the draw for the World Cup, which gives way to the first projections towards the queen of competitions, have not changed anything: this Ligue 1 season is a wonderful soap opera. Unlike the last edition, the title race should end before the final episode, despite Paris Saint-Germain mediocre collectively, but far ahead of their first pursuer (12 points). This 30e day however launched another final sprint, that for the podium, which will rarely have counted so many candidates eight stages from the finish line. They are six, even eight for the greediest, to be able to hope for a place in the top 3 at the end of the ball. The draw between Nice and Rennes, two very serious contenders, allowed OM to consolidate their second place and establish themselves as the big favorites for runner-up status, even if the Phocaeans do not even run at an average of two. points per game (1.87). A little further behind, Strasbourg, Monaco and even Lille, yet held in check by Girondins reduced to ten for an hour, are still in the game, while Nantes and Lyon dream of a miracle. Ready, fire, go!

“The end of the season is exciting, it will be important to manage your emotions well. »
Bruno Genesio

style and emotions

At this stage of the season, it is no longer a question of being in search of certainties. Each team has its style, its strengths, its weaknesses and a course of action to follow to pick up the points on its way and thus not be taken out at the first underperformance. This is the case of OL, which again showed great shortcomings against Angers this Sunday, and Nantes, more sure of their strength, but undoubtedly little concerned by a possible unexpected comeback. Nice and Lille also know that their solidity is worth more than their attack (the Gym remains the best defense with only 24 goals conceded), which may have inspired Strasbourg, which is learning to be tough (one goal conceded in the last four games) after having relied heavily on his attack in the first part of the season. Racing seems in any case more coherent than AS Monaco, the most illegible team in this wagon whose only conviction is that it can count on the current best gunner in the championship (Ben Yedder, 18 pawns).

The salvation of OM and Rennes will go through the game, there is no longer any doubt. After a long prosperous period where Jorge Sampaoli’s band was more solid than spectacular, it has proven in recent weeks that it is still capable of winning by scoring a lot and conceding a little. Stade Rennes, for its part, has the sexiest team label in Ligue 1 to assume (64 caramels, co-best attack in the championship), which makes it expected every weekend and raises the level of demand. In Nice, the Bretons often struggled to develop their polished game, and Bruno Genesio regretted “lack of risk taking” of his men, slightly paralyzed by what is at stake. “It’s important to stay on the podium in front of Nice and the other teams very close behind.continued the Rennes technician after the point brought back from the Côte d’Azur. The end of the season is exciting, it will be important to manage your emotions well. »

The former OL coach knows the song, managing emotions will be the key to emerging victorious from such a fight. A major challenge for Nice and Rennes, two of the youngest squads in the championship, but led by two experienced coaches who are now used to getting involved in this kind of fight at the top of the table. Which is not the case of Julien Stéphan’s Strasbourg, whose calendar is the most full-bodied (OL, Rennes, Lille, PSG, OM), while Monaco, Lyon or Lille also know the recipe for a great end to the season. . However, there remains a question mark for the two Olympics, the last French clubs involved in the European Cup: how to manage the calendar? “I think we are ready to have it both ways.warned Sampaoli. The team shows a lot of enthusiasm to achieve the objectives, both in the league and in the European Cup. » Marseille can’t afford to miss an opportunity to update the slogan “Forever First” by winning a C4 within their reach, and OL now know that the Europa League is the shortest (even the easiest?) way to earn a place in the Champions League next season.

Shake up the hierarchy

On the banks of the Rhône, the most pragmatic will say that a good career in C3 will hardly save the head of Peter Bosz and the face of a season which could see Lyon miss the podium for a third year in a row for the first time at the XXIe century and since the period 1995-1998. The proof that the hierarchy is no longer very clear at the top of the table. Behind PSG, everything is open and no place is reserved for historical players who also have the biggest budgets (250 million euros for OL and OM, 215 million euros for Monaco). LOSC showed it last season by winning the title of champion of France, and Strasbourg knows that a surprise is never to be excluded.

But it is above all Nice and Rennes that have a place to take in the hexagonal gratin, both sportingly and financially, two aspects rarely separable anyway. At a time when all clubs have to tighten their belts, starting with Marseille and Lyon, the Aiglons and the Bretons can count on strong and ambitious shareholders with INEOS and the Pinault family. More than the affair of a season, there is in these two “new” rich people the discreet desire to shake up the established order. The future will wait, the present must last another two months, and the predictions still have time to be contradicted. That’s good, the scenario of a good soap opera must always be unpredictable.

The calendars of the six main candidates for the podium:

  • Marseilles (2e56 pts/+20): receives Montpellier (D31), goes to Paris (D32), receives Nantes (D33), goes to Reims (D34), receives Lyon (D35), goes to Lorient (D36), goes to Rennes (J37)*, receives Strasbourg (J38).
  • reindeer (3e53 pts/+35): goes to Reims (J31), receives Monaco (J32), goes to Strasbourg (J33)receives Lorient (D34), receives Saint-Étienne (D35), goes to Nantes (D36), receives Marseille (J37), goes to Lille (J38).
  • Strasbourg (4e51 pts/+19): receives Lyon (D31), goes to Troyes (D32), receives Rennes (J33), goes to Lille (J34)receives PSG (D35), goes to Brest (D36), receives Clermont (D37), goes to Marseilles (D38).
  • Nice (5e51pts/+16): goes to Lens (D31), receives Lorient (D32), goes to Monaco (J33)receives Troyes (D34), goes to Bordeaux (D35), receives Saint-Étienne (D36), receives Lille (J37)goes to Reims (J38).
  • monaco (6e47pts/+14): receives Troyes (J31), goes to Rennes (J32), receives Nice (J33)goes to Saint-Étienne (D34), receives Angers (D35), goes to Lille (J36)receives Brest (D37), goes to Lens (D38).
  • Lille (7e47 pts/+3): goes to Angers (J31), receives Lens (J32), goes to Reims (J33), receives Strasbourg (J34)goes to Troyes (J35), receives Monaco (J36), goes to Nice (D37), receives Rennes (J38).

    *In bold, the direct confrontations between the candidates for the podium (excluding PSG).

    By Clement Gavard

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