Breaking Down the Ligue 1 Relegation Picture

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Breaking Down the Ligue 1 Relegation Picture
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It may still be relatively early in the season, but the Ligue 1 table is already beginning to take shape.

Paris Saint-Germain appear to be well-set for a run at their second consecutive title, with Lille and Monaco being their closest challengers.

Life is very different at the wrong end of the table, though, with a number of teams appearing destined for a fight against relegation.

There is plenty of time for the situation to change, but here is Bleacher Report's breakdown of the Ligue 1 relegation picture as it stands. 

 

In serious trouble

Unsurprisingly, the three sides that currently occupy the bottom three are the sides considered to be in most danger of falling into Ligue 2.

Sochaux-Montbeliard have survived the drop on the final day of the last two seasons, and it looks as if they will need to pull off another great escape if they are to retain their top-flight status.

A 5-1 defeat at newly promoted Guingamp back in September ended Eric Hely's spell in charge, and he has since been replaced by Herve Renard.

Renard led Zambia to Africa Cup of Nations glory in 2012, but he will need to address some serious shortcomings in both attack and defense if he is to keep a team that has just seven points to their name in the division.

Just above Sochaux are managerless Ajaccio; the Corsican outfit endured a dreadful start to life under Fabrizio Ravanelli, who was sacked by the club following a 3-1 defeat to Valenciennes earlier this month.

Adrian Mutu—who scored 11 goals last season—has yet to find the net this season, and the Romanian striker's lack of form is just one of the reasons why the islanders find themselves at the wrong end of the table.

Ajaccio have quality in the midfield in the likes of Benoit Pedretti and the underrated Paul Lasne, but unless the prospective new manager can solve their woes in front of goal and fix a leaky defense, Ajaccio could well find themselves in the second tier next term.

Valenciennes have already made their managerial change, with Ariel Jacobs replacing Daniel Sanchez.

The Northerners have since taken four points from their last two games and can move out of the bottom three with a win at Lyon.

Like their relegation rivals, Valenciennes are not blessed with talent. But with players such as winger Mathieu Dossevi and local favorite Rudy Mater, they do possess the experience necessary to fight against the drop.

 

Surprise strugglers

Few would have tipped Lorient and Montpellier to be in danger of relegation at the start of the two season, but both appear to be in danger of slipping down a league.

Montpellier appointed Jean Fernandez, who left eventually relegated Nancy midway through last season, as a replacement to Rene Girard in the summer.

However, Fernandez has struggled to inspire his new side, and Montpellier have won just two of their 13 Ligue 1 games in 2013-14.

Montpellier do still possess a great amount of talent, particularly in the form of attacking midfielder Remy Cabella, but with enigmatic owner Louis Nicollin seemingly keen to auction off all the club's best assets, do not be surprised if Montpellier are still near the bottom come the end of the season.

Lorient are three points behind Montpellier and sit just two points ahead of the relegation zone.

The Brittany club have some talented strikers in Jeremie Aliadiere and Vincent Aboubakar, but keeping both fit is proving a significant challenge.

Additionally, head coach Christian Gourcuff has been at odds with president Loic Fery over the sale of midfielder Mario Lemina to Marseille.

Lorient's dreadful form has not helped Gourcuff's position at the Stade du Moustoir, and if they continue to struggle, then the 58-year-old's spell at the club could soon be coming to an end.

 

Outsiders

Evian and Toulouse have hardly set the world alight with their form this season, but neither seems in serious danger of relegation.

Pascal Dupraz's Evian are seven points ahead of the drop zone, however, they boast a number of attacking options, including the likes of Kevin Berigaud and Denmark international Daniel Wass.

Toulouse sit level on points with Evian and continue to produce uninspiring football under Alain Casanova.

Danish striker Martin Braithwaite is slowly adapting to life in Ligue 1 following his move from Esbjerg, as the 22-year-old has scored four league goals so far.

Braithwaite could hold the key to Toulouse's Ligue 1 future, although Casanova will look to the likes of Wissam Ben Yedder and Eden Ben Basat as he aims to revive their fortunes. 

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