After missing out on Coupe de France glory last weekend, Nice will turn their attention back to Ligue 1 with a home encounter against Saint-Etienne on Wednesday night.
The hosts currently sit sixth in the table, five points behind the Champions League positions with a game in hand, while the visitors occupy 18th place and are three points adrift of safety.
Nice’s hopes of lifting silverware for the first time since 1996-97 were quashed as they suffered a slender 1-0 defeat against Nantes on Sunday.
After a cagey first half, the deadlock was broken in the 47th minute when Ludovic Blas converted from the penalty spot. Nice pushed for a late equaliser, but the Canaries held on to claim a deserved victory at the Stade de France.
Speculation in the media has since suggested that manager Christophe Galtier is set for crisis talks with the club’s board, with the 55-year-old prepared to walk away from the club if his wish to work with former Lille and Monaco sporting director Luis Campos is not granted.
While rumours linger off the pitch, Nice’s first-team squad will be focused on their final three Ligue 1 fixtures as they bid to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in 62 years.
The Eaglets head into Wednesday’s contest in good form on home soil, as they have won six of their last eight Ligue 1 games at the Allianz Riviera.
They have, however, lost three of their last five league matches against Saint-Etienne, including a 1-0 home defeat in January last season, so Galtier and co cannot take their opponents lightly in midweek.
Saint-Etienne remain embroiled in a relegation battle after suffering back-to-back defeats against Monaco and Rennes.
A heavy 4-1 home defeat to Monaco was followed by a 2-0 loss away to Rennes last weekend, their 18th Ligue 1 defeat of the campaign; only basement club Bordeaux have lost more this term.
Saint-Etienne still occupy the relegation playoff position, but a win for Metz last weekend has seen them climb to 19th place, just three points behind Les Verts. Lorient in 17th, meanwhile, currently sit three points clear of Pascal Dupraz’s men.
Les Verts have only won three of their 17 Ligue 1 away matches this season – against Angers, Troyes and Clermont – and have failed to win each of their last five on the road, conceding 13 goals in the process.
Wednesday’s fixture against Nice is arguably Saint-Etienne’s toughest remaining fixture, as games against midtable outfits Reims and Nantes are still to come this term, but claiming maximum points would provide a massive boost in their quest to avoid the drop.
Nice Ligue 1 form:
Nice form (all competitions):
Saint-Etienne Ligue 1 form:
We say: Nice 3-1 Saint-Etienne
While Saint-Etienne’s slender win over Nice last season will provide them with some confidence on Wednesday, Les Verts could be in for a challenging evening against their Champions League-chasing opponents this time around.
Securing all three points is required if they are to move out of the bottom three, but we can only see the Eaglets running away with victory on home soil.