Everything Toulouse? TFC set for relegation play-off
Toulouse FC face AC Ajaccio in the relegation play-off first leg on Wednesday, although the Corsicans'' "home" fixture will take place at Montpellier Hérault SC's Stade de la Mosson…
AC Ajaccio - Toulouse FC
Toulouse and Ajaccio each celebrated final-day wins last weekend, with the Ligue 1 Conforama side beating EA Guingamp on Saturday to avoid an automatic return to the second tier of French football, somewhere they have not been since the 2002-03 season.
While Le Téfécé's victory was comparatively routine, with Max Gradel and Yaya Sanogo on target in a 2-1 win, Ajaccio's 5-3 penalty shoot-out victory following a 2-2 draw at home to Le Havre AC in Dominos' Ligue 2 was laced with controversy.
The game was initially postponed following an attack on the Le Havre team bus, before a clash which eventually saw four red cards and L'ours coach Olivier Pantaloni entering the field of play during penalties despite being on the receiving end of one of those dismissals.
Ajaccio coach Pantaloni could yet lead his team into the top flight despite Sunday's trouble.
The Ligue de Football Professionel (LFP) announced on Wednesday that Ajaccio would not be allowed to contest the first leg of the play-off at their Stade François Coty, but any punishment would not extend to blocking the Corsicans' attempts to re-join the French top-flight after a five-year hiatus. An empty Stade de la Mosson is all they will have to contend with.
Pantaloni, for his part, is keen to focus on the football.
"I think we'll face a very physically fit Toulouse team," he said at his pre-match press conference. "For us, it's going to be important not to expend all our attacking efforts in the first leg. In any case, I must congratulate my players on what's been an extraordinary season."
Watch: Highlights of Toulouse's 2-1 victory over Guingamp!
But for having a three-day turnaround, Ajaccio will be at full-strength for the game - a luxury Toulouse do not enjoy, with midfielder Yannick Cahuzac still absent with an adductor injury picked up at the start of the month. Andy Delort will be fit, though, the forward having missed the Guingamp game with a twisted ankle.
Speaking before the Ajaccio-Le Havre game, Toulouse coach Michael Debève had described both as "great clubs", and now with his opponent confirmed, he is taking nothing for granted.
"We would have liked to have secured automatic survival but if we have to go through the trenches then that's what we'll do," he said. "We must be well-prepared for these two play-off games."
Ajaccio: Leca; Hergault, Sainati, Avinel, Cabit; Coutadeur, Boé-Kane; Nouri, Cavalli, Wissa; Gimbert
Toulouse: Lafont; Yago, Diop, Jullien, Moubandje; Somalia, Blin, Imbula; Delort, Sanogo, Gradel