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Title, relegation and European drama: Welcome to the Ligue 1’s most exciting final day in years

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Lille and PSG are battling for the title

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Title, relegation and European drama: Welcome to the Ligue 1’s most exciting final day in years

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Siddhant Lazar

05/22/2021

In what has been a certain Ligue 1 for many, many years, for once absolutely nothing is certain and it is a joy to watch. Paris Saint-Germain are, potentially, on the verge of losing their league title with the battle for European places and the relegation playoff spot going down to the final day.

This is the Ligue 1

Long been called the farmers’ league, especially in the recent years, with Paris Saint-Germain establishing a strong-hold and yet, in crazy, condensed and utterly insane season, the French top tier has turned into a chaotic mix of explosiveness and exciting. Don’t get it wrong, nearly all five of Europe’s big leagues had something similar happen to them for most of this season, that is barring the La Liga.

There was a point where Granada, Real Sociedad, Villarreal and a few others all had a chance but halfway through and Atletico Madrid had already established their lead. It should have been over and done with but that’s a story for another day because as it stands, Ligue 1 is set up brilliantly for its final day. And that’s not just their title that is up for grabs, it’s everything that one could possibly think of.

European places? Since France get only three Champions League places, we’ve got three teams battling it out for two spots. Then the Europa League places and Europa Conference League place are up for grabs, aka 5th and 6th with one already secured. 

And then there’s the almighty relegation battle with six teams in contention for the playoff spot against a lucky Ligue 2 side. That’s right, from 13th place Stade Reims all the way to FC Nantes in 18th. Tough math but we took time out of our day to do it for you, so thank us later. 

The Relegation Scenarios:

With only one spot left, and it being a relegation playoff spot, it means that one out of the six teams will be battling for their future in the French top tier before next term. Here’s how.

For Stade Reims (13th) or For Bordeaux (14th) to survive

This is simple. 

Stade Reims play Bordeaux on the final day and the kicker is that the two sides have the same number of points (42). But where it does become complicated is should FC Nantes win and either side drops points but since this is Stade Reims, let’s do it for them. So, option two for Reims is should they lose to Bordeaux on the final day by eight or more goals, then they’ll be relegated. Because the goal difference (GD) that separates Reims (-7) and Bordeaux (-15) is well, you guessed it, 8 goals.

That is if results elsewhere go against them. Because it would see Bordeaux not only leapfrog over them but also drop Reims into 18th. But the GD thingy doesn’t apply vice-versa because if Reims do win, then Bordeaux drops into 18th (should results go against them) and that’s that. Now, this is if Nantes win on D-day. However, should Reims and Bordeaux draw but Nantes still win, then Bordeaux gets relegated because of Reims’ better GD.

Again, that is if results elsewhere go against them but there is always option number one. If FC Nantes, who are on 40 points, lose to Montpellier on the final day, then it’s all done. Everyone else survives while Nantes will play the relegation play-off with the Ligue 2 side. But option two is where it gets complicated.

For RC Strasbourg (15th) or for FC Lorient (17th) to survive

This is where it gets a little complicated and weird. Racing Strasbourg, or R Strasbourg or Strasbourg, have 41 points and a GD of -9 going into the final day. The two below them also have 41 points but a worse off GD but that’s not the kicker because Strasbourg happens to face FC Lorient on D-day. It means that we have a catalogue, aka three, options for what could potentially happen.

Option A, or 1, is if Nantes win. Then it’s all over for the team that loses between Strasbourg and Lorient because it would see Nantes move up to 43 points. However, for the side that does win, then they’re safe and sound because it would, do the math people, move them into 44 points. But what happens when they draw and Nantes wins is where it gets nice and complicated, because that depends on everyone else.

It would take both sides (Strasbourg and Lorient) up to 42 points, with Nantes on 43 and this complicates things. Because for Strasbourg to stay up, they’ll need Stade Reims to lose by at least two goals (because goals scored comes into play once GD is level) and Stade Brest 29 to lose. Bordeaux winning makes no difference because it would see, should the above happen, Stade Brest finish on 41 points and thus the lowest.

However, for Lorient, they would quite simply, need a miracle. A draw would, like it would for Strasbourg, move them onto 42 points but their GD of -18 doesn’t help their cause. They would need Stade Brest to lose and Bordeaux to lose by three or more goals. That would level with their GD, or make Bordeaux’s even worse, which would help Lorient as they’ve scored more goals. Anything else and Lorient are relegated, that is if they draw against Strasbourg.

Option B, or 2, is if Nantes draw. Then they move onto 41 points and either a draw or a win for Strasbourg and/or Lorient is enough to survive. In case of a loss for Strasbourg however, then they will then be relegated, should Stade Brest win or draw their game PSG. That is because their (Strasbourg) GD (-9) is worse than Nantes (-7) and the situation remains the same for Lorient, should Strasbourg beat them on the final day.

Option C, or 3, is if Nantes lose. Then it’s a party for the other five because Nantes will be relegated to playing the relegation playoff against the Ligue 2 side.

For Stade Brest 29 (16th) to survive

This is a tough one, for Stade Brest I mean, because they play Paris Saint-Germain on the final day and also have 41 points. The Parisians have other hopes but need a win and thus will be going all out which means, Brest have to do the same because they could potentially drop to 18th. How?

Option A, or 1, is if Nantes win. Then Stade Brest could potentially survive, if they either beat PSG because it would move them to 44 points and into safety. However, if they do draw against the Parisians, then Brest would need either Lorient or Bordeaux to lose because their GD is better than only those two sides in the battle against relegation. The other two (Stade Reims and Strasbourg) are better placed that way and them winning won’t help.

But Brest could also survive should they lose to PSG if Lorient lose to Strasbourg because their goal-difference (GD) will keep them up. It does, however, depend on how many they lose by because Lorient’s GD is -18 while Brest’s -14, which means anything more than four and they’re done for. But that is unless they score because as it stands, they’ve netted one more (50 goals) than Lorient (49 goals).

Option B, or 2, is if Nantes draw. Then Brest either need to get points off PSG or they need Lorient to lose because no other situation helps them in that case. Nantes earning a point would see them move onto 41 points (level with Brest, Strasbourg and Lorient) but should Lorient lose then Brest are safe on GD.

Option C, or 3, is if Nantes lose. Then it’s a party for the other five because Nantes will be relegated to playing the relegation playoff against the Ligue 2 side.

For FC Nantes (18th) to survive

Isn’t it simple by now? It’s not? Then let’s make it simple. Three options.

Option A, if Nantes win. Then it moves them onto 43 points which means they’ll be safe should one, or two or even three, of Strasbourg, Lorient, Stade Brest, Stade Reims or Bordeaux lose. 

Option B, if Nantes draw. Then they’ll move onto 41 points and will need a miracle, or at least one of the three teams (Strasbourg, Lorient, Stade Brest) level on points with them to lose their games. A draw for either of the trio won’t help because it would push them all one point above and thus it’ll relegate Nantes to playing a relegation playoff.

Option C, if Nantes lose. Then they’ll stay where they are and the others can party. 

The Ligue 1 title scenarios:

Slightly less complicated but no less fun to watch even though there are, technically, three teams in the form of LOSC Lille, Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco involved. Let’s dig in, shall we?

For LOSC Lille (1st with 80 points) to win:

This is quite literally the simplest thing ever and it wouldn’t have come down to the final day had Lille beaten Saint-Etienne in their last game. But no dice because a title doesn’t count unless it goes down to the final day, now does it? 

Anyway, back to the point. This is quite literally simple because all Lille need to do is win their final game against Angers and they’ll have a well-deserved league title. They could win it with a draw as well but that’s only if PSG, who sit one point behind them, either lose or draw their game as well.

A win for PSG and a draw for Lille, on the other hand, sends the title to Paris.

For Paris Saint-Germain (2nd with 79 points) to win:

Nothing too complicated. PSG need to win and hope that Lille either draw or lose their game for Mauricio Pochettino’s side to retain their title for another season. A draw could potentially do it for them but that's only if Lille lose their game, because then PSG's superior goal difference helps their cause. Anything else just isn’t enough.

For AS Monaco (3rd with 77 points) to win:

Dream on AS Monaco fans, dream on. Your season may have been rather impressive and actually really fantastic but the title is slightly beyond your dreams. Because with Monaco three points behind Lille, at the moment, and two behind PSG, they need a miracle. That miracle sees Lille lose to Angers by a margin of six goals and PSG lose to Brest in order to for Niko Kovac’s men to lift the title.

Impossible, right? But never say never although this one but just be out of reach.

The Champions League scenarios:

Three places are all that France get for the Champions League with the place side entering the third qualifying round of the 2021-22 edition. But with LOSC Lille confirmed to finish at least first or second, it does mean that there are two places for three sides to battle over. 

For Paris Saint-Germain (2nd with 79 points):

A win for PSG and they are guaranteed the title, read above, and a spot in next season’s edition of the Champions League. However, should they lose, then they’ll need to pray that Monaco don’t win because otherwise Niko Kovac’s side leapfrog Mauricio Pochettino’s and into second place.

Olympique Lyon could go level on points with PSG, should they win, but the Parisians’ mammoth goal difference will push them above Lyon. 

For AS Monaco (3rd with 77 points):

Again, really simple because For Monaco to finish in a Champions League spot, they need to either match Lyon’s result or PSG’s result. A win for them secures the place in the top three but a draw or a loss could see them potentially fall fourth should Lyon win or draw their game against OGC Nice.

For Olympique Lyon (4th with 76 points):

It is as simple as you like it because Lyon cannot lose. A win for them and they’ll push up into third should Monaco lose or even draw. But a draw would work as well although that’s provided Monaco don’t take their chance and drop points because either a draw or a loss works in favour of Lyon. That is thanks to their GD with them sitting at 39 while Monaco sits five behind at 34.

The battle for the rest scenarios: 

Not as sexy as a Champions League battle but this particular battle for the Europa League should be fun to watch. Especially with PSG winning the Coupe de France because it means that the fifth-placed side will qualify for the tournament. The Europa Conference league is also at stake which will go to the sixth-placed side but however, there are three teams in the fight for it.

For Olympique Marseille (5th with 59 points):

With Olympique Lyon sitting pretty nearly 17 points above Olympique Marseille, fourth place is all but a dream for them on the final day. However, securing fifth place could be even more complicated for Marseille especially if they lose on D-day. Jorge Sampaoli’s men, as you can see, are three points above Lens and play Metz on the final day.

But all they need is a point to secure fifth place for themselves. Yet, if Marseille do lose and Lens end up winning, then the sixth place side will need to win by six goals or more to overcome goal-difference. It’s an improbable situation for them especially when you take into factor that Monaco are their opponents on the night.

For Lens (6th with 56 points):

Tough as it gets, this has been a stunning season for the club. However, they could cap it off with a Europa League place but to do that they’ll have to beat Monaco on the night. It a tough ask any other time but it gets even harder when you factor in goal-difference. Because it means that Lens would need to win by six goals or more to leap over Marseille, and hope that Marseille lose at the same time.

If that doesn’t happen, then they will still be given European football via the Europa Conference league should results elsewhere go their way. 

For Stade Rennais (7th with 55 points):

Those other results? Well, they happen to be what happens to Stade Rennais. Bruno Genesio’s side sits one point behind Lens and play Nimes on the final day which could add some spice. Because given their goal-difference, Rennais could qualify for the Europa Conference league with a draw should Lens lose to Monaco or a win if Lens only manage a point. However, if Lens do win, then Stade Rennais’ chances of European football are over.

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