This season’s Ligue 1 campaign came to a dramatic end this weekend, with battles to secure European football and survival in France’s top flight being fought across the country. Monaco, Marseille and Lyon were all vying to finish in the top three, and secure Champions League qualification for next season. At the foot of the table, several other sides were in danger of slipping into Ligue 2, with Toulouse aiming to secure a relegation play-off spot in the quest to avoid the drop. For the majority of France’s most elite teams the stakes couldn’t have been higher on the final matchday, rounding off one of the most memorable Ligue 1 campaigns.
Even on the final game of the season, Monaco’s grip on second place was in danger. Both Lyon and Marseille have mounted respectable challenges for the position, and with only three points the difference between Champions League or Europa qualification Monaco came into their clash against already-relegated Troyes needing a win. Rony Lopes has stepped up in the biggest occasions this year, and duly did so again this weekend with a magnificent brace helping secure a 3-0 victory for the principality side. His first arrived on 21 minutes, a stabbed finish from close range following Youri Tielemans’ original effort. A rapid counter attack led to Monaco’s second, which culminated in Lopes drilling low beyond Erwin Zelazny on 71 minutes to double the home side’s lead. Jordi Mboula added gloss the scoreline deep into stoppage time, as Monaco secured a second place finish a year after lifting the Ligue 1 trophy.
Monaco’s victory meant that Lyon could only finish as high as third spot. They played Nice in their final league game, who themselves held ambitions of European qualification. A scintillating hat-trick from Memphis Depay rounded off a crucial win for Lyon, capping off an impressive season in France for the Dutchman. In the aftermath of the clash, Nice confirmed that manager Lucien Favre had departed after the eighth place finish, with strong rumours that the tactician will soon become Borussia Dortmund’s new head coach.
Monaco and Lyon’s results meant that Marseille missed out on a top three finish, despite a last day victory over Amiens. Just days after the Europa League final heartbreak, Marseille looked to bounce back at the Velodrome and secured the victory courtesy of goals from Morgan Sanson and Kostas Mitroglou. Results from their closest rivals conspired against Marseille, consigning them to Europa League football next season.
The other two French sides contesting in Europe next season are Rennes and Bordeaux. The former’s 1-1 stalemate with Montpellier secured a fifth place finish, whilst Bordeaux’s impressive resurgence under Gus Poyet continued, a 4-0 victory over basement team Metz securing the final European qualification spot.
Meanwhile, at the foot of the league standings, the bottom three sides were also decided. Caen’s impressive draw with champions Paris Saint-Germain secured their Ligue 1 status for the second consecutive season, whilst Toulouse were forced to settle for an 18th place finish and the resultant relegation play-off battle against Ajaccio.
Elsewhere in France:
Dijon 2-1 Angers
Nantes 1-0 Strasbourg
St Etienne 5-0 Lille