Monaco head seven survival candidates
Key matters at both ends of the Ligue 1 table will be decided at Stade Louis II this weekend as Monaco do battle for top-flight survival against UEFA Champions League hopefuls Lyon.
On what promises to be a nail-biting end to the season that rival that seen in La Liga and the Premier League, no fewer than seven teams head into the final round of fixtures with the threat of relegation still looming large.
With Arles and Lens already down, Monaco, one of the most successful clubs in the history of the French league, find themselves in the final relegation berth and on the brink of relinquishing their 34-year stay in the top flight.
Monaco are one point behind Valenciennes, Caen and Nancy, and two behind Auxerre, Brest and Nice, and with so many teams in the mix, a win against Lyon would likely be sufficient to save their skins. But that is far from an easy proposition against a Lyon side bidding to secure a third-placed finish that would earn them a place in the Champions League qualifiers next season.
Claude Puel's troops are just two points clear of fourth-placed Paris St Germain - who travel to St Etienne on the final day - but could seal third place with a draw providing the capital club do not win by an impressive margin.
Certainly the scale of the match is not lost on Lyon midfielder Ederson. "We'll have to play very intelligently, because Monaco also really need the points," the Brazilian said. "It'll be like a final. We have to win, and we won't be thinking about how PSG are doing in St Etienne. If we win, we don't have to worry about anyone else."
Monaco are sweating on the fitness of their talismanic goalkeeper and captain Stephane Ruffier, who was forced off in last weekend's crucial 1-0 win over Montpellier with a thigh problem. "I injured myself again when taking a goal kick and the pain got worse and worse," Ruffier explained. "I think I'll be okay to take the field against Lyon and I'll do everything I can to make that happen."
Nancy, just one place above Monaco, are bidding for a third straight win and will be optimistic they can escape the drop at home to already-relegated Lens. Valenciennes' home game with Nice is arguably the pick of the relegation fixtures, with both sides within two points of the drop zone in what could be a winner-takes-all encounter.
Brest are another side in danger and currently sit in 13th place, level on 46 points with Nice. The Brittany club play host to Toulouse, who themselves are only three points above Monaco but cannot be relegated as they are guaranteed to finish above either Nice or Valenciennes. The same quirk of the fixture schedule also applies to Montpellier, who are level on 47 points with Toulouse but cannot be relegated no matter what the outcome of their trip to Bordeaux.
Caen, just a point above Monaco, face a tough task as they play host to runners-up Marseille, while 12th-placed Auxerre are also not yet safe and must get something from their trip to Lorient if they are to be sure of staying up.
Newly-crowned champions Lille wrap up their double-winning campaign at home to Rennes, while bottom side Arles will be bidding for a third win in a row to sign off their stay in the top flight when they host Sochaux.