Ligue 1 Preview: Evian host Valenciennes in crucial relegation clash
By Football News
Evian welcome Valenciennes to Annecy on Saturday in a game that could go a long way to deciding the two clubs' future in Ligue 1.
The hosts sit in 17th place, and a win this weekend would see them open up a sizeable eight-point cushion over their 18th-placed opponents with just nine games to go.
Pascal Dupraz's Evian have found some form of late, having won their last two Ligue 1 games without conceding - a much-needed boost after a run of just one victory in 14 top-flight matches had threatened to condemn them to the drop.
Valenciennes will also enter the clash with confidence, as they came from behind to claim a 2-1 home win over Rennes last Saturday.
They have struggled on their travels of late, however, losing their last four on the road, while Evian have lost just one of their last six at the Parc des Sports.
Dupraz will be hoping for a repeat of the reverse fixture back in October, when Modou Sougou's 82nd-minute winner earned Evian a 1-0 win.
Second-bottom Sochaux will look to gain ground on one or both of Evian and Valenciennes when they host Lorient, while Ajaccio, cut adrift at the foot of the table, entertain Guingamp.
In the race for European football, in-form Lyon must bid to keep their slim UEFA Champions League qualification hopes alive when they take on second-placed Monaco on Sunday.
Remi Garde's men have lost just one of their last 13 Ligue 1 games and are currently seven points behind Lille in third.
Three points better off than Lyon in fourth are Saint-Etienne, who have the daunting task of visiting the capital to take on runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
Big-spending champions PSG have not lost at home in Ligue 1 since November 2012 - a run of 26 matches - and Laurent Blanc's men look certain to retain their title, leading Monaco by eight points.
Meanwhile, Lille will hope to strengthen their grip on third by extending their five-game unbeaten league run against Nantes.
Sixth-placed Marseille can bounce back from consecutive defeats when they travel to Reims - who sit a place and a point below them in the table - on Friday, while two mid-table sides go head-to-head when Bastia visit Nice.
Elsewhere, Rennes host Toulouse and Montpellier entertain Bordeaux.