17th-placed Ligue 1 side FC Nantes are on the brink of a Ligue 2 relegation, ten years after their return to the French top-flight, following a catastrophic second half to the season.
Les Canaris had a comfortable lead on the 4-team drop zone, but a long run of poor results in the league, combined with exhausting runs in the Coupe de France as well as in the Europa League, has seen the 8-time French champions collapse in the standings, eventually costing Antoine Kombouaré his job as manager.
Nantes’ U19 coach Pierre Aristouy picked up the mantle. Despite slight improvements in the way the team plays, Nantes still look unable to return to winning ways. Les Canaris have failed to clinch a league win since February. The situation is as it stands: Nantes have a 2-point deficit on 16th-placed Auxerre, which means only a win against bottom-placed and Ligue 2-bound SCO Angers would give Les Canaris a chance of survival. A loss or a draw would mean relegation.
Should Nantes clinch a win against Les Scoïstes, all eyes will turn to Auxerre’s result. The Yonne side will host second-placed RC Lens. On paper, the Artois side are overwhelming favourites. However, Lens have nothing to fight for any more as their second-place finish is already confirmed, whilst Auxerre are expected to put up the fight of their lives. In the case of an eventual Nantes victory, Auxerre need to win against Les Sang et Or to confirm safety. Should Nantes win and Auxerre get a draw, both teams would be level on points, and the former would keep their Ligue 1 status. Nantes’ better goal difference (-19) than Auxerre (-26) could prove crucial come Saturday night.
GFFN | Bastien Cheval