Ligue 1 Talking Points writer Paul Bathurst on rank outsiders for the Champions League places Nantes after Les Canaris flew to another win at the weekend.
With Ligue 1 now sewn up in terms of the actual champion, eyes are drifting towards the battle to stay up and the race for the European places. Usually we consider the likes of Monaco, Lyon, Marseille and maybe St Étienne for these much coveted European places. However thanks to a strange Ligue 1 season dominated by one team, so called ‘lesser’ clubs are now in contention.
We now have sides like Rennes and Nice in the top 5, these clubs will see this as their best chance for a long time to achieve something special. There is however, one more club who I think possess the capabilities of breaking into the promised land.
Les Canaris are having an excellent season by all accounts, they have steadily gone about their business, and have more or less safely secured their stay in the top flight for next season. With their main goal certainly achieved, in part thanks to a previous run of 18 matches in all competitions without defeat prior to their embarrassing derby day defeat to Rennes, FC Nantes have now set their sights a little higher.
Der Zakarian has got his side playing in a positive manner, they are secure at the back and are aggressive in their attack. Playing with in a old school manner, Nantes have adopted a more direct style than you would associate with the majority of top flights sides.
This rejuvenated approach has allowed the team to quietly go about their business, and they are hitting form at the perfect time. Results have not been out of this world admittedly, but their performances have been excellent and they probably deserve to have more points on the board. With Les Canaris sitting just 3 points behind third places Nice, they have an excellent opportunity to mount a late surge.
With some more than favourable fixtures ahead against weak opposition, Nantes are more than capable of stringing together a few wins. Perhaps the major advantage is that they have fixtures against 4th placed Lyon and 3rd placed Nice coming up. If they can win those ‘6 pointers’ or even just avoid defeat, they will have a great chance of competing on a bigger stage come next season.