Ligue 1 Preview: Ajaccio facing relegation, Monaco aim to cut gap at top
By Football News
Ajaccio will suffer the humiliation of being relegated by their arch rivals if they fail to win at Corsican neighbours Bastia on Sunday.
Ligue 1's bottom club have endured a nightmarish season, and stand on the brink of dropping into the second tier after a campaign that has seen them claim just three league wins.
And Christian Bracconi's men will need to take maximum points at the Stade Armand Cesari if they are to stand any chance of staying in the top flight.
However, Ajaccio have not emerged victorious in the Corsican derby since 2008, and even if Bracconi's side do beat Bastia, they will still be relegated should 17th place Guingamp - who are 15 points ahead of the islanders with five games remaining - win at Bordeaux.
Guingamp will need to reverse the form book in order to do so following a run of four straight league defeats, their last win coming at Ajaccio last month.
That streak has left the Brittany club just five points above the relegation zone, and Jocelyn Gourvennec's men will be wary of 18th place Sochaux, who are on the charge after just three defeats in their last 12 league outings.
Sochaux visit Reims hoping to keep that run intact, while second bottom Valenciennes can boost prospects of survival with victory over Nantes.
At the other end of the table Monaco can place further pressure on leaders Paris Saint-Germain by cutting the gap at the top to seven points with triumph against Nice.
PSG are heavy favourites to successfully defend their Ligue 1 title, but Monaco trimmed the capital club's lead to 10 points last weekend by overcoming Rennes 1-0, while Laurent Blanc's men were beaten 1-0 at Lyon.
The league leaders face Lyon again in the Coupe de la Ligue final on Saturday, affording Monaco the opportunity to gain further ground ahead of PSG's clash with Evian next Wednesday.
Friday sees a rematch of last season's Coupe de la Ligue showpiece as Saint-Etienne host Rennes.
Saint-Etienne were victorious on that occasion, claiming a 1-0 victory at the Stade de France, and will look to replicate that triumph in order to keep their slim hopes of overhauling third-placed Lille alive.
A win for Saint-Etienne and victory for Marseille against Lille on Sunday would cut the gap between the two teams to four points with as many games to play and set the scene for an exciting finish to the season in the race for a spot in the UEFA Champions League.
Elsewhere, Lorient meet a Montpellier team that still needs a few more points to be sure of a place in the top tier for next season.