OM vs Bastia for a European spot20 may 2017
All good things come to an end. The curtain will fall on the 2016-2017 season this Saturday evening with the 38th and final round of Ligue 1 fixtures. Monaco may have the top spot wrapped up, having been crowned champions last Wednesday, and the order of the top four may be decided, but fifth place - and the final qualifying position for the Europa League (depending on the result of the French Cup, which could send a sixth team to the European stage) - is still up for grabs. And there's also tension at the bottom of the table in the battle to avoid relegation . Through a quirk of the schedule, both of the teams fighting for fifth are taking on clubs embroiled in the relegation scrap. While fifth-placed Marseille host Bastia, currently 19th, sixth-placed Bordeaux will head to Lorient, who are currently 18th.
After their home triumph against Nice, Rudi Garcia's men have their fate in their own hands. And they managed to retain their one-point lead over the Girondins last week by securing a draw against Bordeaux last week. Now all they have to do is consolidate that result against the Corsicans, who will be keeping one eye on the results of the teams around them, and another on the points totals to see if they're safe, relegated or into the play-offs.
For their part, the Marseillaise, who will be seeking the win that would confirm fifth place irrespective of Bordeaux's result, could also need a calculator should they fail to win, but with their superior goal difference compared to their Europa League qualification rivals, they can remain optimistic.
But they need to be careful not to take their foot off the gas prematurely. For the players, the summer holidays begin on Sunday. Not before... Especially as the Orange Vélodrome stadium will be full to the rafters with fans seeing the season off in style - a season which began with OM in the bottom half of the table, and ended with them firmly in the top.
Such are the stakes: suspense at every level, a European place to confirm over the course of 90 minutes in a cauldron of noise and passion. All of the ingredients are there for a great night, which should set the scene for more of the same in 2017-2018.