Relegation battle hotting up

Ligue 1 Conforama > Interviews

While Paris Saint-Germain won the title in record time, the battle at the other end looks set to go right down to the wire.

Troyes' relegation could be confirmed come Saturday night, but with just six points separating Gazélec Ajaccio in 18th and Marseille in 10th, nobody is safe, and the pressure has proved too much for some...


"Sometimes you get the impression that whoever you pick, it will always be the same individual errors that penalise you and throw you off track," an exasperated Willy Sagnol, who was relieved of his duties as Bordeaux coach following their 4-0 derby day thrashing in Toulouse last weekend, told the Ligue 1 Show on beIN SPORTS.

The sacking has left Les Girondins completely deflated, as André Biyogo-Poko attested: "We are struggling, you can see that just by looking at our results - we are struggling to play good football and pick up points!"

Ramé: 'Prove our worth'

So in comes Ulrich Ramé, a former Girondins goalkeeper. With the side just 5 points above the drop in 14th, his baptism against SC Bastia on Sunday becomes a must-win game.

"Sunday is an incredibly important match, we need everybody to pull together, whether that is the backroom staff or the fans," said the new man in the Bordeuax hot seat. "It's up to us to prove our worth and grind out a win; nobody is going to do it for us."

Dupraz: 'A brilliant first evening'

If things are gloomy in Bordeaux, local rivals Toulouse are suddenly all smiles after their new coach Pascal Dupraz masterminded the 4-0 derby win after just two weeks in charge.

Despite being second-bottom, seven points behind 19th-placed Gazélec Ajaccio, a new-found feeling of hope is blowing through the Pink City with Dupraz at the helm.

"He has done us a lot of good, it feels like a fresh start and we needed that, but above all we needed confidence!" said TFC forward Adrien Regattin, with Dupraz also enjoying the new-found positivity. "I saw a happy group of players, I saw the staff happy, I saw happy directors and smiling chairman. Most of all I saw the supporters get behind us. For me, this was a brilliant first evening here."


Directly above Toulouse and level on points with Reims, the minnows of Gazélec Ajaccio are also on the up after an important 1-0 win over Caen last weekend.
 The Corsicans occupy a unique place in the survival scrap though. In the club's first-ever season in Ligue 1, Thierry Laurey and his men knew that they would be fighting for top flight survival.

"We all knew that it would be tight for us! I would go as far as saying that we are delighted to still be part of this scrap!" said Laurey. "We want to continue fighting until the very end, nothing more, nothing less."

EAG on the up

The islanders know that a win in Nice this weekend could take them above Guingamp and into sixteenth.
The Bretons, though, beat Saint-Etienne 2-0 on Saturday, an important win on a weekend in which results generally went in favour of Guingamp's closest rivals.

"We don't worry about anybody but ourselves, it's up to us to win and get the results we need," said EAG striker Jimmy Briand, who scored the opener on Saturday. "Results didn't go our way this weekend, but the most important thing for us is to win."

With just two points between the sides ahead of the Bretons' trip to 17th placed Reims, this weekend's clash takes on great importance for both Guingamp and Olivier Guegan's men.

Crunch clash

"Things will depend on the next two games, on how our rivals fare," explained Reims boss Olivier Guégan. "At this point, I am looking at every detail and seeing where we can pick up the points to reach 42 points. That's what we're aiming for."

The Champagne club have been here before, surviving late on in the previous two seasons. But following a draw in Monaco and the thrashing of Bordeaux, Reims are confident to avoid last-minute drama this time around, as striker Gaëtan Charbonnier confirmed: "We believe in our chances! Wins tend to come in streaks, and we're motivated to secure our safety."

Kick in the teeth

Despite hitting good form of late, Montpellier are very much still part of the endangered group as they travel to Saint-Etienne on Saturday. Their 2-0 defeat in Nice at the weekend came as a blow and put an end to a five-game unbeaten run, leaving La Paillade 15th, just three points clear of the bottom trio.

"I think that was a turning point in our season, if we had won we could have looked up rather than scrap for our lives, but it will be tough until the end now," said Montpellier midfielder Ryad Boudebouz. "We need two wins and one draw from eight games to stay up."

Gazélec look to have the toughest run-in, with rivals Bastia as well as Lyon and Paris yet to play. However, as long as the bottom half of Ligue 1 remains this tight, the fight to survive is well and truly on!



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