Goal kings Monaco poised for French crown

New Straits Times - - Sport -

Free-scor­ing Monaco could wrap up a first Ligue 1 ti­tle in 17 years to­day as de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Paris Saint-Ger­main need a near-mir­a­cle to earn a fifth straight cham­pi­onship.

Monaco en­joy a three point lead, have a mas­sive goal dif­fer­ence ad­van­tage of 19 and even hold a game in hand as they host 11th placed Lille, with the Parisians fac­ing a tough trip to Saint Eti­enne’s rau­cous sta­dium.

A Monaco vic­tory would all but math­e­mat­i­cally se­cure the ti­tle, while PSG must at least match their re­sult to keep alive any sem­blance of sus­pense.

Leonardo Jardim’s swash­buck­ling out­fit has scored 98 league goals so far whilst they also led the French charge in Europe.

“The league ti­tle has al­ways been our main tar­get this sea­son and there’s just a game or two to wait now and we’ll see it through se­ri­ously and pro­fes­sion­ally,” said Monaco’s 18-year-old break out striker Kylian Mbappe af­ter a brave Cham­pi­ons League cam­paign ended in a semi-fi­nal de­feat to Ju­ven­tus in mid­week.

Af­ter Lille, Monaco have a mid­week catch-up match at home to Saint Eti­enne ahead of the fi­nal day’s games next Sun­day.

PSG can be trusted to fight to the bit­ter end hav­ing re­gal­va­nized since their dra­matic Cham­pi­ons League melt­down at Barcelona, win­ning 10 out of 11 games in league and cups.

Mario Balotelli-led Nice, early sea­son pace-set­ters now rav­aged by in­jury, are guar­an­teed at least third place and travel to Angers with al­most noth­ing at stake.

And while last sea­son’s run­ners up Lyon are al­most as­sured of fourth and Europa League foot­ball next sea­son, Mar­seille travel to Bordeaux in a crunch clash for the the se­cond Europa League qual­i­fy­ing place — Mar­seille cur­rently lead Bordeaux by a point.

There is a des­per­ate six way scrap to avoid the drop — although Mont­pel­lier need only a point to as­sure safety — where even bot­tom side Bas­tia can still dream of re­demp­tion. The Cor­si­cans host long time base­ment dwellers Lori­ent, who re­cently climbed clear of the rel­e­ga­tion zone. That game is to be played at a neu­tral venue as pun­ish­ment for Bas­tia fans as­sault­ing Lyon play­ers on the pitch three weeks ago.

There is another cru­cial rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle as se­cond bot­tom Nancy visit third bot­tom Di­jon with just a point sep­a­rat­ing the two.

The bot­tom two will be au­to­mat­i­cally rel­e­gated while the third bot­tom side will play a Ligue 2 out­fit in a pro­mo­tion/rel­e­ga­tion play-off.

FIX­TURES: To­day — Bas­tia v Lori­ent, Bordeaux v Mar­seille, Caen v Rennes, Di­jon v Nancy, Metz v Toulouse, Monaco v Lille, Mont­pel­lier v Lyon, Nantes v Guingamp, Nice v Angers, Saint Eti­enne v Paris Saint Ger­main.

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