Ligue 1 Conforama champions Monaco face a huge battle to finish on the podium while Sunday's opponents at Stade Louis 11, Metz, have boosted their survival hopes with 10 points from their last four games.
AS Monaco - FC Metz
Monaco required a last-gasp Radamel Falcao goal at home to Nice on Tuesday night to avoid losing the Côte d'Azur derby, while Metz were convincing 3-0 winners at home to Saint-Etienne the following day as Frédéric Hantz's side maintained their fine recent run.
Wins for Olympique Lyonnais and Olympique de Marseille in Week 21 saw Monaco slip from second to fourth and last season's Champions League semi-finalists know they are in a real fight to qualify for next term's competition.
Jardim on Falcao: "That's what great strikers are like"
Falcao's goal came from his only touch inside the opposition penalty area as the club captain marked his return from injury with a 16th Ligue 1 Conforama goal of the campaign from only 17 starts. Coach Leonardo Jardim knows all about the Colombian's prowess in front of goal: "That's what Falcao is all about. He's an attacker that makes the most of his opportunities, just like Balotelli for Nice. That's what great strikers are like."
Speaking when aware of OM's win at home to Strasbourg but a day before OL's success at Guingamp, Jardim commented: "We deserved a point but it wasn't enough. That said it was an important point. The fight for second place in the table will be hotly contested all the way through to May."
Hantz overseeing Metz turnaround
Appointed as Philippe Hischberger's successor at the end of October, Hantz has managed to turn Metz's ship around. The former Bastia and Montpellier boss said: "I was shocked when I arrived as it seemed like the squad was down and out when only 11 games had been played. The smiles are back on faces now and the players are proud of themselves again. It's important for Metz's image as we started 2018 with a home win."
Despite the three points Metz were still seven points back from 17th and guaranteed survival going into Week 22. Fortunately for Metz's supporters Hantz believes there is till plenty of scope for improvement: "In mid-February I think we'll have a squad that's ready both mentally and physically and that will be important heading into the end of the season. If all months are important, the month of May will be decisive."
Boosted by the signings of Georges Mandjeck and Danijel Milicevic, Metz have been able to count on the goals of Emmanuel Rivière and Nolan Roux in recent matches. Both were on the scoresheet against Saint-Etienne and the former has scored in there of his last four league games, while roux has hit the back of the net in each of the last three and, having already scored seven times in Ligue 1 Conforama, the 29-year-old might finally reach double figures in the top division for the first time in his career.
Monaco: Subasic; D.Sidibé, Glik, Raggi (cap), Jorge; Fabinho, Tielemans; K.Baldé, Lemar, Rony Lopes; Falcao
Metz: Kawashima; Rivierez, Diagne, M.Niakhaté, Palmieri; Cohade (cap), Poblete, Milicevic; M.Dossevi, Rivière, Roux