OUR man in France is Julien Laurens and tonight he's looking at four crucial games on the final day of the season.
Julien is a London-based sports correspondent for Le Parisien and a veritable French football expert. He writes in French and English for a number of esteemed publications and is a regular on BT Sport as well as contributing to Unibet.
Marseille v Amiens (Sat 8pm)
Marseille host Amiens on Saturday evening at the Stade Vélodrome, three days after losing the Europa League final against Atletico Madrid in Lyon. It was a really big disappointment for the team and the club but they need to pick themselves up to try to finish in the top three in the league.
They are currently fourth, a point behind Lyon in third and three behind Monaco in second. They can overtake Lyon if they win and l’OL don’t. They believe they can do it and playing so quickly after a big disappointment is actually a good thing.
Marseille will be without Dimitri Payet who got injured against Atletico. He left the pitch with tears in his eyes, but manager Rudi Garcia has other options. He will keep his 4-2-3-1 formation and Kostas Mitroglou could start up front now that he is fully fit.
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The stadium will be full, and the atmosphere will be great as the fans will push their team to try to snatch third place from Lyon’s hands. They believe in this miracle and the players will do their bit by beating Amiens on Saturday. It is very important for Marseille to qualify for the Champions League next season and they hope that Nice will help them.
Amiens have had a great season. They have nothing to play for as they have been safe for a couple of weeks now. You can’t expect the players to be totally in it and Marseille will certainly put a lot of pressure on them.
- Marseille 3, Amiens 1 (17-2, Unibet)
- Thauvin to score first (33-10, Unibet)
- Marseille win both halves (8-5, Unibet)
Lyon v Nice (Sat 8pm)
This is a huge game as both teams still have a lot to play for. Last Saturday was disastrous for Lyon who lost at Strasbourg in the last seconds of the game, while Monaco won in the last seconds which means that Lyon are now third, two points behind Monaco.
However, third place is now a direct spot in next season’s Champions League group stages, so Lyon can still finish third and be assured to take part in the competition next season.
L’OL are just a point clear of Marseille though, so they need to match their result to make sure they finish third. Their defeat at Strasbourg last weekend was a huge hit on the head as they were 2-1 up in the 88th minute. It taught them a good lesson and the players want to redeem themselves in front of their fans.
It will be a tough game against Nice, but the Lyonnais believe they can do it. Finishing fourth and be overtaken by Marseille on the last day of the season would be a disaster for Lyon.
Manager Bruno Genesio has Mariano Diaz back in the squad after he missed the game last weekend. Anthony Lopes and Mouctar Diakhaby are suspended which is a huge blow. But everyone else is available for Lyon. Genesio will be able to field a very strong team. This is Lyon’s most important game of the season and they don’t want to mess it up. They have been good at home this season in Ligue 1 but they are wary of their opponent.
Nice can still finish in sixth place and qualify for next season’s Europa League so there is a lot at stake for them too. This is Lucien Favre’s last game in charge of Nice before he leaves to go to Borussia Dortmund and he wants to finish on a high. This could also be Mario Balotelli and Alassane Plea’s last match. It will be a busy summer in Nice and they want to finish the season on a high. However, I think Lyon will be too good for them.
Caen v PSG (Sat 8pm)
Paris travel to Caen on Saturday evening, a week after losing at home to Rennes (2-0) on their last home game of the season. It was a disappointing result, but it showed that the Parisians have switched off mentally since winning the league.
They didn’t play very well against Rennes, who took their chances. You can expect a similar performance on Saturday from Paris away in Caen.
You can question the motivation and attitude of the players before this game. It is Unai Emery’s last game in charge of Paris before leaving. His two seasons have had great moments and more difficult ones. And overall, the team has not improved. He will want to finish strongly but the players have showed in the last few games that they are not up for it anymore.
Marco Verratti, Neymar and Dani Alves are still out injured like Edinson Cavani. On the other hand, Thiago Silva is back in the squad after missing the defeat against Rennes. Emery will field a very competitive team on Saturday with Kylian Mbappé as a centre forward. Paris have been very good away from home all season but in their last away game they only drew at Amiens (2-2). They have not lost away at Caen though since 2008. They won 6-0 there last season.
However, the home side still have something to play for, unlike Paris. They need a point to stay up. They have lost their last three league games and are 17th in the table, three points ahead of Toulouse but with a worse goal difference. So, a defeat against Paris and a Toulouse win and they would finish 18th and play in the relegation playoff. The atmosphere will be great in a sell-out stadium. I think Caen will get a point.
Troyes v Monaco (Sat 8pm)
Monaco travel to Troyes on Saturday evening with a two-point cushion in second place over Lyon in third. Last weekend saw incredible drama, with Fabinho’s 91st minute winning goal against St Etienne while Lyon were losing at Strasbourg meant that Monaco overtook Lyon to go second. A win would ensure that last season champions finish second this time. A draw would not be enough if Lyon won against Nice.
The events of last weekend were a huge boost for the team and the club. It felt like a miracle. Monaco have not been playing well for weeks now but somehow they managed to stay in the race. Now they are so close to finishing second.
Manager Leonardo Jardim is still without Keita Baldé and Stevan Jovetic. Radamel Falcao is still a doubt despite being fit but he could still start on Saturday, as could Djibril Sidibé, who is also back to full fitness.
The Monégasques want to finish the job on Saturday. Their season has been up and down, but the players want a happy ending. Their record away from home is not fantastic this season (five losses and five draws out of 18 games) but their destiny is in their hands. They have not lost in Troyes since 2002!
For Troyes, this is also a huge game. The home side is currently 19th in the table but just a point behind Toulouse in 18th, which would play the relegation playoff. There is still some hope for Troyes but they need to beat Monaco and hope that Toulouse don’t beat Guingamp at home. This will be a tense game, but I think that Monaco will edge it.