A mighty tight race for the three Champions League places allocated to Ligue One by European football’s governing body Uefa heats up when France’s best supported club Olympique Marseille travel to Stade Reims on Sunday. Igor Tudor’s Marseille are ten points behind leaders Paris Saint Germain and under pressure from Racing Lens and Monaco as they seek to land the runners up slot for a second consecutive season.
Will Still’s six time Ligue One winners Stade Reims are certain to test Marseille’s European credentials as they go into the match on the back of a 19 game unbeaten run. European Cup losing finalists to the great Real Madrid in 1956 and 1959, Reims are powered by the goals of Arsenal loanee Folarin Balogun and brains of 32-year-old Belgium based Englishman Still, the youngest tactician in Europe’s top five leagues.
Marseille have been blowing hot and cold all season but have greatly benefited from a loan system that has seen Matteo Guendouzi, Saed Kolasinac, Eric Bailly, Nuno Tavares, Cenghiz Under and Alexis Sanchez swap the Premier League for the Stade Velodrome. All six have featured prominently in the 1993 European champions’ push for Champions League football. Tavares and Kolasinac have both set new personal scoring records.
Ligue One action commences on Friday night with Laurent Blanc’s misfiring Olympique Lyon at home to lowly Nantes. Despite the goals of Alexander Lacazette, Lyon are running out of games to qualify for European football. The summer cash splurge that took Lacazette, Nicolas Tagliafico and Corentin Tolisso to the Groupama Stadium has been ineffective as Lyon have missed loaned out African strikers, Cameron’s Karl Toko Ekambi, and Zimbabwean Tino Kadewere.
Paris Saint Germain are without Neymar Jr for the Parc des Princes game against Rennes. However, club record net buster Kylian Mbappe Lottin will come out all guns blazing as he tries to take control of the race for this season’s Ligue One Golden Boot. Mbappe is currently locked at 19 goals with Lille’s Canadian forward Jonathan David, with Reims Folarin Balogun, Monaco’s Wissam Ben Yedder and Lyon’s Lacazette, all of whom have bagged 16 goals, also in with a shout.
Olympique Lyon v Nantes
Toulouse v Lille Metropole,
Racing Lens v Angers
Ajaccio v Monaco,
Montpellier v Clermont,
Nice v Lorient,
Strasbourg v Auxerre,
Troyes v Brest,
Paris Saint Germain v Rennes,
Stade Reims v