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FEATURE: Relegation Review: Who will go down to Ligue 2 with 3 matches to go?

With 3 games to go we finally have a clear view on who may occupy this much-dreaded 18th spot come May 23rd. Indeed, there is now a 3-point gap between 13th Nice and 14th Caen. Nice are now 5 points clear of Evian (who are 18th) with a far superior goal difference (-6 to Evian’s -18). This does not mean that Nice are safe but that it would take something special for them, Bastia and Nantes to go down at this stage.

This leaves us with Caen, Lorient, Toulouse, Reims and Evian to fight it off as 2 points separate those 5 sides. Metz are still not mathematically relegated to Ligue 2 but playing Monaco and Lille for their last 2 games may well be the final straw.

Let’s have a look at each of those 5 sides.

Caen will surely be kicking themselves for still being in the struggle at this stage of the season the way they started 2015. 6 wins and a draw (at the Parc des Princes) in the opening 8 games of the calendar year promised much more than what came after: since beating Marseille at the Vélodrome in late February, the Normandy-outfit has only gained 5 points from 8 games including only a point from games against unfancied sides Metz and Lorient. Saturday’s draw at Nice was a good result as it stopped a rot of 3 straight defeats but the run-is tricky.

First Caen host Lyon – who have won 4 from their last 5 and will want to win all their games till the end of the season to push PSG for the title – then travel to Bastia – who will be looking at confirming their Ligue 1 status before the final day – and finally host Evian, THE relegation 6-pointer of May 23rd.Lorient aren’t down there because they are incapable of good football but because they are inconsistent. Only once have they been able to record back-to-back wins (against Lens & Toulouse in late November) but they have proven that they are fully capable of beating the country’s best teams as they won at Marseille 5-3 a week ago.

This weekend’s game at Metz looks very dangerous though. Metz have showed more heart than Lens in delaying the date of their confirmed demotion to Ligue 2 and a win for them will mean that they’ll still have a slight chance of staying up (albeit incredibly slim). On the other hand, a win for Lorient would mean them reaching the 40-pt barrier.

Lorient would be inspired to get maximum points from this game as their last two games are Nantes away and Monaco at home. Not 2 games you’d think they’d get maximum points from. 

Toulouse have had a managerial change a month ago and the fortunes have changed. Since then they have managed 3 wins from 6 games, a form worthy of a mid-table side. However, defeats at Metz and Monaco keep them at the wrong end of the table. They have proven though that they can win high pressure games (at home to Bordeaux in the Garonne derby and at Lorient) and their forthcoming opponents’ (Lille, Guingamp & Nice) seasons are over or will be very soon. 

Reims have also experienced a managerial change but the reaction hasn’t been as positive as the one at Toulouse. One win in 7 and no home win since early March is relegation-form. Also, the run-in is probably the worst of the five sides involved: first the Champagne side travel to Evian (mammoth game), then host Rennes (unbeaten in 6) and finally travel to PSG (won last 6). In other words, Reims need to win at Evian to avoid the drop. 

Which brings us to the last of our contenders: Evian. The Savoie side have beaten all the sides mentioned above in 2015 bar Caen (whom they play on the final day). A home win against Reims is on the cards but, even assuming that they don’t, they then host Saint-Etienne – who look frankly disinterested this late in the season as Champions’ League doesn’t look on and the club is becoming a bit too accustomed to the Europa League – and then travel to Caen for the final day 6-pointer. A lot of arguments in favour of Evian.

Finally, here is a table recouping games between those sides:

 

Team

Played

 Win

Draw

Loss

GS

GC

GD

Points

Caen

 7

5

1

1

17

7

+10

16

Toulouse 

 8

3

1

4

8

11

-3

10

Evian

 6

3

0

3

6

7

-1

9

Lorient

 8

3

0

5

9

11

-2

9

Reims

 7

3

0

4

8

12

-4

9

I stand by the prediction I made a month ago: Reims will go down.

Philip Bargiel

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