Monaco will be looking to snatch a spot on the Ligue 1 podium when they travel to face dethroned champions Lille in the weekend’s opening game at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Friday evening.
The hosts are now out of the running for the European spots, sat down in 10th in the standings, whilst Monaco come into the weekend in fourth.
The most optimistic Lille fans may still have fancied their teams chances of breaking into the top five after they bounced back from two defeats thanks to a late winner from Zeki Celik at home to Strasbourg on April 24.
That optimism will have come crashing down with a disastrous performance, though, away against a relegation-threatened Troyes side last weekend.
Jocelyn Gourvennec’s side may have dominated much of the first half but things would crumble after ESTAC took the lead through a penalty just before the break.
First, Renato Sanches talked himself into a second yellow card, then the hosts put a second penalty away, then Burak Yilmaz’s wild lunge saw Lille reduced to nine, and finally, salt was applied to the wound as Troyes made it 3-0 with a third penalty.
The performance earned Les Dogues the unwanted statistic of becoming the first team to receive two red cards and give away three penalties in a Ligue 1 game for 30 years and saw them all but officially drop out of the running for a spot in Europe, now nine points behind fifth-placed Nice with three to play.
Life on the South Coast, on the other hand, continues to get brighter – not just in terms of the improving weather, but as a result of Monaco’s impressive recent performances.
They picked up another comfortable 2-0 win over struggling Angers at the weekend as top scorer Wissam Ben Yedder’s goal on the hour mark sealed the result after an own goal from the unfortunate Abdoulaye Bamba late in the first period.
The win extends Les Monegasques’ winning streak to seven matches – stretching all the way back to their surprise 3-0 victory over Paris Saint-Germain in mid-March – which is the best ongoing run across all of Europe’s big five leagues.
Two consecutive wins for Rennes leaves the pair glued together, level on points in the battle for the final step of the podium and the Champions League football which that provides.
With Les Rennais boasting the far superior goal difference, Philippe Clement will have to hope that they slip up in the remaining three games and that his side can stretch their impressive run a bit further.
Lille Ligue 1 form:
Monaco Ligue 1 form:
We say: Lille 1-2 Monaco
The hosts will be determined to bounce back and make amends for their last showing, but realistically they now have very little to play for in these final three games. That, combined with Monaco’s current form, should see Les Monegasques edge what should still be a tight game.