The Ligue 1 relegation battle is heating up with just eight games remaining. With Dijon destined to be relegated, the big question that remains is who joins them in Ligue 2 next season.
With eight rounds of games to go, five sides are fighting for their lives, separated by just five points. Nantes and Nimes occupy the bottom three with the latter sitting in the relegation play-off spot. While Lorient, Saint-Etienne and Strasbourg are hovering precariously close to the relegation zone.
It’s going to be a huge fight in the final two months of the season as the race to ensure survival reaches the final straight.
Ligue 1 Relegation Battle: Eight Games Left to Ensure Survival
Dijon Destined for Relegation in Ligue 1 Battle
Ligue 1’s bottom club Dijon are a matter of weeks away from their relegation being confirmed. David Linares’ team need an absolute miracle to ensure their Ligue 1 status.
They sit rock bottom with just 15 points from their 30 league games. They are fourteen points adrift of the play-off spot and safety. The bottom club are far from survival form having lost ten consecutive league games with a winless run of 13 matches.
To complete a miraculous escape they must win at least seven, if not all eight, of their remaining matches. It’s a tall order for a team that have won just two league games all season.
They are going down but, the question still remains as to who will join them.
Nantes Finding Momentum
The side occupying the second automatic relegation place is Nantes. However, since Antoine Kombouare took over as manager, their form has majorly improved as they fight for survival.
Kombouare’s arrival as manager has yielded nine points from his six league games in charge. That run has included an impressive away win at Paris Saint Germain. Kombouare has made Nantes efficient and difficult to beat. They are just a point off safety and certainly have the momentum needed to survive under their new manager.
Nantes face a crucial run of games in April. The month kicks off with a home tie against the inconsistent Nice- a great opportunity for Kombouare’s men to extend their decent run. That is followed by the derby with Rennes and a home clash with title-chasing Lyon.
Both are crucial games that, again, present Nantes with an excellent chance to pick up points. However, both will be difficult clashes with both Rennes and Nantes having plenty to play for. The month concludes with a crucial clash against fellow strugglers Strasbourg- a must-win for both teams.
Nantes certainly have the most momentum in the Ligue 1 relegation battle. Maintaining that will be vital to their chances of survival.
Nimes Gradually Improving in Ligue 1 Relegation Battle
Another side benefitting from a change in the dugout is Nimes. Pascal Plancque initially took over on a caretaker basis but has turned the team’s fortunes around with a string of excellent results. The change of management has seen Nimes move to within touching distance of safety. They currently occupy the relegation play-off spot, only inside the bottom three on goal difference.
Plancque has collected 14 points from eight matches in charge. Nimes’ new manager has won four of eight games, the total number of wins matches in Nimes’ first 22 league games. And while they have improved, they still have a few issues to address- especially at the back. Nimes have the worst defence in the league and this needs to be improved.
They, like Nantes, have momentum and confidence having beaten the then leaders Lille in their last league game. However, there is still plenty of work to do in their battle for survival. Renaud Ripart and Moussa Kone have gained some vital form at the other end of the pitch.
Ripart, in particular, has been key to the success under Plancque. He has eight league goals with four of those coming in Plancque’s eight games in charge.
Nimes face an important run of matches in April starting with a vital clash with fellow strugglers Saint-Etienne. They have the home edge and form so will fancy their chances against an out of form Etienne. That is followed by a trip to Brest before another crucial clash against a rival as Strasbourg visit the Costieres Stadium. The month finishes with a trip to European chasing Lens.
Nimes definitely have belief and confidence but will be aware the job isn’t complete yet. They remain in trouble in the Ligue 1 relegation battle but certainly have form on their side.
Lorient Have Improved Since the Turn of the Year
It seemed for a long time that Lorient would be sleepwalking into an instant return to Ligue 2. However, since the start of 2021, their form has dramatically turned around to a point where they now find themselves outside the relegation zone.
Lorient managed just 12 points from their opening 17 league games but, since the start of 2021, they have collected 17 points from 13 matches. Being tough to beat has been key to their success – Lorient have only lost four league games in 2021 compared to 11 during 2020.
They have taken time to adapt but it appears they are now firmly at home in France’s top flight. However, Christophe Pellissier will be aware his team still have work to do. Despite their improved form, they sit outside the bottom three on goal difference – too close for comfort.
Crucially, Lorient have goals in their side. They managed 36 goals, a number only bettered by Strasbourg in the bottom six. Yoane Wissa and Terem Moffi have 15 between them. Both have stepped up in Lorient’s improved run and will be key to their survival chances.
Midfielder Laurent Abergel has been key in their midfield. His improved displays have helped Lorient offensively as well as defensively. Abergel is the only Lorient player to feature in every single league game. He, like many, took time to adapt but is firmly at home in Ligue 1.
Lorient’s April fixtures kick-off at home to Brest in a great chance to pick up three points. That is followed by trips to Lens and Marseille before a home tie against Bordeaux concludes the month. All are tricky games but Lorient will fancy they can pick up points. With eight games remaining, survival is the primary objective for the vastly improved Lorient.
Saint-Etienne Sinking Towards Relegation
Despite having a four-point cushion on the bottom three, Saint-Etienne are in real trouble. One of Ligue 1’s most decorated sides are staring at the prospect of relegation. Claude Puel’s men have been hugely disappointing this season.
They have lost three of their last four games. Overall, they have won just four times in their last 15 league games. This is only half of Claude Puel’s problems. They boast the worst attack out of their four direct rivals with just 30 league goals this season.
The pressure on Puel is increasing and if their form doesn’t improve, Les Verts could be plying their trade in Ligue 2. A club with so much tradition and history are sinking, and fast. Their form has to improve- starting with a trip to fellow strugglers Nimes in a must-win game for both sides.
That is followed by a home game with Bordeaux and a trip to the capital to face PSG. The month concludes against the inconsistent Brest. Four must-win games for Saint Etienne are set as they scrap for survival in a tight Ligue 1 relegation battle.
Strasbourg Facing a Crucial Run
This has arguably been Strasbourg’s toughest season since they were promoted. They find themselves in real trouble with just eight games to save themselves. Their form is poor and are too close for their liking to the relegation zone. Just two wins from the last ten for Strasbourg has seen them plummet in dramatic fashion.
Thierry Laurey’s men have potentially the ace in the pack. They have the best attack and best defence in the bottom six. That could be the difference between survival and relegation. They certainly have enough goals with the likes of Ludovic Ajorque and Habib Diallo in their ranks. The loss of the instrumental player and captain Kenny Lala hit them hard and they are still feeling the effects of his exit.
Their April run of games kicks off with a trip to Bordeaux. That is followed by a home tie with PSG and games against fellow strugglers Nimes and Nantes. Win the latter two and you would say Strasbourg will be playing Ligue 1 football next season.
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