A Complete Breakdown of the Ligue 1 Relegation Picture

Nicholas McGeeContributor IApril 3, 2013

REIMS, FRANCE - MARCH 02:  Anthony Weber of Stade de Reims Champagne celebrates victory during the Ligue 1 match between Stade de Reims Champagne v Paris Saint-Germain FC at Stade Auguste Delaune on March 2, 2013 in Reims, France.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

There are just eight games remaining in the Ligue 1 season and the relegation picture at the bottom of the table is as crowded as ever, with as many seven teams still in danger of falling into the second tier.

The stage is now set for a thrilling finale, but who is most likely to suffer the ignominy of relegation? Here is the complete breakdown of the fight to avoid demotion to Ligue 2.



The Basement Boys

Troyes are undoubtedly the favorites to be the first team to be relegated, Jean-Marc Furlan's men have been in the bottom three for the majority of the season and sit six points adrift of safety in last place despite only losing three times since the turn of the year.

An imposing run-in should present a difficult challenge for Troyes, but with the likes of Julien Faussurier; Corentin Jean and Benjamin Nivet all performing well, do not bet against an unlikely escape from the men from the Stade de L'Aube.

One of the games that will have a big impact on who goes down will be Troyes' upcoming clash with Nancy at the Stade Marcel Picot.

Many had already consigned Nancy to their fate a few weeks ago, but after a run of three wins in their last four games, Patrick Gabriel's side are off the foot of the table and are unbelievably only four points shy of moving out of the bottom three.

Djamel Bakar has been key to Nancy's upturn, the forward has scored twice in the last two games since making the move out wide, Benjamin Moukandjo and youngster Florent Zitte have also contributed and a previously leaky defense has stiffened significantly.

Gabriel will be confident in guiding his squad to survival, as they head into a run of fixtures that includes games against six of the teams in the bottom half.

Nancy's form is in stark contrast to that of Brest, who this week dismissed boss Landry Chauvin after winning just twice in 2013.

The Bretons have since replaced Chauvin with Sporting Director Corentin Martins, who looks set to have a difficult task keeping his troops in the top flight despite still having to face the likes of Bastia, Reims and Sochaux in the coming weeks.

Creative talents Florian Raspentino, Bruno Grougi and Kamel Chafni will all be crucial to Brest's fortunes, however Martins' side have not won at home in the calender year, and it could well be a tense finish for a team which once called the Stade Francis Le-Ble a fortress.



On the precipice

Brest's poor run since the start of the new year may have dragged them into the bottom three, but just above them are a clutch of team all still in great danger of relegation if results do not go their way.

Three of those teams are level on 31 points, with only goal difference separating the trio. Sochaux are currently the side at the bottom of the pile, but certainly have momentum, after Giovanni Sio and Cedric Bakambu helped them to add the scalp of Lyon to a list including PSG and Marseille.

Les Lionceaux would be virtually safe if not for poor results against the likes of Evian and Nancy, and therefore it may be of comfort to Eric Hely and his team that many of their remaining games are against sides chasing a place in Europe.

Despite this the men from Montbeliard know they will need to pick up points from the other clubs in the lower reaches of the table if they are to maintain their Ligue 1 place.

Reims are the side directly above Sochaux, but will be in confident mood following a run of just two of their last seven after going four months without a win.

Defender Mohamed Fofana and midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak have both managed to find the net recently, and their goals are a welcome bonus to a side that has had to rely on top scorer Gaetan Courtet for much of the season.

Lyon, Bordeaux and Marseille are among the clubs that Reims have yet to face, and they like Evian will need to surprise some of the bigger teams to ensure their safety.

Consecutive wins over Sochaux and Lille and a thrilling draw with Fournier's side have given Les Roses a fighting chance of staying up, and they will hope that leading hit-man Saber Khelifa and the instrumental Cedric Barbosa can produce more excellent displays against PSG and Nice among others.

Perennial strugglers Ajaccio are a further two points ahead, but after three defeats in their last six Albert Emon's charges still have work to do. Adrian Mutu and Chahir Belghazouani have provided the goals, but consistency will be needed if the small club from Corsica are to close out another relatively successful campaign.



Almost safe

Ajaccio's island rivals Bastia have grabbed many headlines this season, and wins over Lyon and Valenciennes have all but cemented their status as a Ligue 1 outfit.

Frederic Hantz's men have scored eight goals in those last two games, with Florian Thauvin—who has contributed half of those strikes—and Wahbi Khazri showing just why they are rated among the best young players in the French game.

Bastia possess the leakiest defense in the division having conceded 56 times, but with a vibrant attack and games with Brest, Toulouse and Nancy to come, they should have more than enough to stave off any lingering doubts about their survival.

Their latest victims Valenciennes can not yet be considered safe and are level on 36 points with the islanders following a string of results which has seen them emerge victorious just once in 2013.

Les Atheniens have suffered as an attacking force following the sale of Foued Kadir to Marseille, and with a final stretch that contains clashes with PSG and Saint-Etienne along with a number of teams in the relegation fight, Daniel Sanchez and his side will need to be wary of a potential late slide into trouble.



Who will perish?

As always in France the battle against the drop looks to be a fight to the finish, Troyes have shown exceptional fight at times but a deficit of six points appears to be too much to make up, Brest are on what looks to be an unstoppable slide and would be a decent bet to join them in Ligue 2. Nancy have found the energy and are beginning to pick up results as are Sochaux and Reims, however although Evian have reversed their fortunes somewhat, they have largely struggled against the top teams and that may cost them in the final shake-up.