With FC Nantes bringing some strong form into the first leg of their relegation showdown against Toulouse FC - in Toulouse on Thursday night - the Ligue 1 Uber Eats play-offs should bring some high-octane end-of-season drama!
Ligue 1 Uber Eats PLay-offs, first leg
The Stadium, Toulouse
Toulouse FC - FC Nantes
- Kick-off at 19:45 GMT
FC Nantes took a four-match winning streak into their final game of the Ligue 1 Uber Eats season, but a 2-1 loss at home to Montpellier left them in 18th place, staring down the barrel of a two-legged play-off against Ligue 2 BKT high-flyers Toulouse. Can Les Canaris recapture their late-season form and ensure their top-flight survival?
Coach Antoine Kombouaré thinks they certainly should be able to: "Of course we are favourites against a team playing in Ligue 2 BKT! It's up to us to live up to this status and to do what is necessary to stay in Ligue 1 Uber Eats."
But opposite number Patrice Garande isn't so sure of Kombouaré's arithmetic.
"Is a team in difficulty, who are fighting to beat the drop, stronger than a team of Ligue 2 BKT side fighting for promotion? We'll find out on the pitch!" said the man who had Toulouse in the top two for most of the season and who would dearly love to take the club back into the elite after just one season in the second tier. "It would be a great feat to beat Nantes. We want to play enterprising, daring football and above all not approach the match with any confidence issues. That's one of the things I'm proud of this season: TFC is a team that plays, that goes forward, that goes after its opponents! We have to maintain this state of mind."
Play-offs: History favours Nantes
Garande may be bullish, but the numbers speak in Nantes favour: since the return of the play-offs in 2016-17, the Ligue 1 Uber Eats side has prevailed two out of three times (Toulouse v Ajaccio in 2018 and Dijon v Lens in 2019). The only exception was ESTAC, who beat Lorient 2-1 on aggregate back in 2017.
In any case, Les Violets come with all the confidence of an unbeaten run of five games - and 15 in a row at The Stadium - in Ligue 2 BKT and its play-offs.
Can Kombouaré do it again?
However, FC Nantes have done a major about-face since Antoine Kombouaré took office in January, with a 43% win rate in all competitions (6/14). It is therefore difficult to see Nantes as a team in difficulty, despite their final ranking.
With Kombouaré - a TFC coach - FC Nantes have won 4 of their last five away games - against PSG, Dijon, Brest and Strasbourg. And Nantes can also count on a coach who has form in the Ligue 1 Uber Eats play-offs, having helmed Dijon FCO to victory over RC Lens two years ago.