Where the Premier League, Serie A and Bundesliga title winners are all but set in stone, for a box office climax, football fans can look to La Liga and particularly the Ligue 1 title race. The French topflight remarkably sees a four-horse race that could not have been scripted any better with five games to go. Lille currently occupy the summit on 70 points, the heavyweights of Paris Saint-Germain are second on 69, a Monaco side who have lost just once in 18 sit third on 68 with 2019/20 Champions League semi-finalists Lyon fourth on 67.
Furthermore, fourth place will miss out on Champions League football, so there is that bubbling away in the background. PSG and Monaco are in the last four of the Coupe de France with the former also at the same stage in the Champions League, Mauricio Pochettino is spinning three plates while league leaders Lille solely focus on one.
Ligue 1 Title Race: The Run-in
Les Dogues are in the Ligue 1 title race’s pole position but do not boast the best form coming into this final stretch. Slip-ups at home to 18th-place Nimes and Montpellier last time out have seen their lead cut to a single point. It has been a title challenge built from solid foundations, Christophe Galtier’s men have the best defensive record in the division but easily the least potent attack of the four competitors.
Their final five are as follows: Lyon (4th) away, Nice (10th) at home, Lens (5th) away, Saint Etienne (13th) at home and Angers (12th) away. The trip to the Groupama Stadium sticks out enormously, the pragmatist in Galtier would be content with a draw.
The Champions League is, without doubt, the main priority, therefore Pochettino will look to manage his squad with the upcoming two-legged semi-final against Manchester City sandwiched between Ligue 1 action. He does, though, it must be said, boast the deepest and strongest squad of the four. Given their investment in the first team and financial muscle compared to the other four, PSG can have no excuses if they fail to win all three remaining competitions.
Their final five are as follows: Metz (9th) away, Lens (5th) at home, Rennes (7th) away, Reims (11th) at home and Brest (15th) away. The Rennes fixture slapped bang in the middle is the real banana skin, they finished third in 2019/20 and have won four of their last five chasing down the last European qualification spot.
Niko Kovac’s Monaco are on the charge, definitely in the best shape of the four in terms of league form. The strike partnership of Kevin Volland and Wissam Ben Yedder rivals the best in Europe at the moment, the 2016/17 champions will take some stopping.
Their final five are as follows: Angers (12th) away, Lyon (4th) at home, Reims (11th) away, Rennes (7th) at home and Lens (5th) away. A tougher quintet than the two sides above them but the momentum is present and the squad’s youthful spine could carry them through.
Comfortably the outsiders but with quality all over the pitch and just a win away from catching Lille, they cannot be underestimated. Rudi Garcia has had his ups and downs in the hot seat and should he fail to deliver Champions League qualification, the season will be viewed as a failure. Back to back victories over Angers and Nantes have thrown the cat amongst the pigeons, the underdog tag will suit them.
Their final five are as follows: Lille (1st) at home, Monaco (3rd) away, Lorient (17th) at home, Nimes (18th) away and Nice (10th) at home. If they can take points from their next two then they will give themselves a great chance with by far the kindest last three.
Ligue 1 Title Race Perfectly Poised
Unsurprisingly PSG still hold the favourites tag, but this is football. It is never that simple, each and every remaining match will have a huge impact on the Ligue 1 title race. It is on a knife-edge.
Embed from Getty Images