Ligue 1 2012, Week 35 Preview And Fixtures: Just Another Incredibly Important, Dramatic Week

Javier Pastore of Paris Saint-Germain FC during the Dubai Challenge Cup match between Paris Saint-Germain FC and AC Milan at Al-Rashid Stadium in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)

Montpellier play Tuesday's only game, meaning that PSG will know whether or not they're chasing a lost cause by the time their game rolls around.

It's a big mid-week slate in France, with games that could have major impacts on the race for the title and Europe and away from the relegation zone all on tap. Of course, it's kind of the same story every single week, so whatever. I'm kind of over it.

Montpellier vs. Evian

Tuesday 5/1; 21:00 CET/3:00 PM ET

This is gut-check time for Montpellier; with four games to play and a five point lead on PSG, MHSC are firmly in control of their own destiny. The problem with that (assuming you're pulling for Montpellier, and unless you're a PSG fan you're a terrible person that hates fun if you're not pulling for Montpellier) is the club's record against less than stellar competition; losses to Lorient, Nancy, Valenciennes and (most notably at present) Evian stand out amongst an otherwise stellar season.

Far more relevant, however, is Montpellier's stunning home record; just one loss, in September to PSG, and one draw, in December to Toulouse. It's the reason they're in a position to pull off the most unexpected feat in world football this season, and though Evian has been a pleasant surprise in their own right it's hard to see MHSC letting their form at Stade de la Mosson slip when they're so close to the top.

Pick: Montpellier, 3-1

Ajaccio vs. Sochaux

Wednesday 5/2; 19:00 CET/1:00 PM ET

Sochaux has been atrociously bad this season. Just god-awful in every phase of the game. The idea that a club "deserves" to be relegated or "deserves" to stay up is a bit silly, but if Sochaux ends up in Ligue 2 it will be far from a grave miscarriage of justice. Somehow, Sochaux has a chance not to end up in Ligue 2. Anyone that's watched them play will find that astonishing.

Pick: Draw, 1-1

Bordeaux vs. Rennes

Wednesday 5/2; 19:00 CET/1:00 PM ET

Rennes is out of the Champions League picture, but they're still clinging to a spot in the Europa League with Lyon, St. Etienne and to a lesser extent Toulouse still within striking distance. Bordeaux is all but mathematically eliminated from doing anything interesting. The difference? Five more goals scored over the course of 34 games for Rennes. What an odd sport.

Pick: Draw, 1-1

Brest vs. Toulouse

Wednesday 5/2; 19:00 CET/1:00 PM ET

Tonight we find out whether scoring negative goals is a thing that can happen.

Pick: Toulouse, 1-0

Caen vs. Lorient

Wednesday 5/2; 19:00 CET/1:00 PM ET

This game could have an effect on the relegation battle. It probably will not. One or both of these teams may or may not score goals.

Pick: Lorient, 1-0

Dijon vs. Auxerre

Wednesday 5/2; 19:00 CET/1:00 PM ET

Auxerre is a bit of an anti-Sochaux, in that it's shocking that a club of their size would be in the relegation zone (last place, even!) but somewhat hard to understand how their results have been this bad. This is far from a good team, but the cellar seems a harsh place to be. Is this the week they pull themselves to safety and get that elusive win away from home? Sure, why the hell not.

Pick: Auxerre, 2-1

Lyon vs. Valenciennes

Wednesday 5/2; 19:00 CET/1:00 PM ET

Lyon is in the strange position of having to figure out whether or not the Europa League is really preferable to focusing their energy on domestic play. Valenciennes are in a similarly strange position of having to figure out whether or not there's any real incentive to showing up for this game.

Pick: Lyon, 3-1

Marseille vs. Nancy

Wednesday 5/2; 19:00 CET/1:00 PM ET

Nancy is hoping to get a result here as it would keep them above Marseille in the table. There's no joke here. That's plenty funny all on its own.

Pick: Draw, 2-2

Nice vs. Lille

Wednesday 5/2; 19:00 CET/1:00 PM ET

Despite a rough start to the season and plenty of ups-and-downs all the way through, Lille look an almost certain bet to make a return to the Champions League. With Eden Hazard off to England at the end of the season it will be interesting to see how LOSC manages to go about rebuilding and making another go next season, but they're likely going to have a fair bit of cash at their disposal in order to line up reinforcements. I think it's probably safe to say that they're not going to be spending any of it on Joe Cole.

Pick: Lille, 3-1

PSG vs. St. Etienne

Wednesday 5/2; 21:00 CET/3:00 PM ET

PSG is out of options; they've got to keep wining until Montpellier gives them another choice, but really even then they'd probably be better off winning. It's frankly quite shocking that it's gotten to this point for PSG, and if you think I'm a big enough man not to bring up the fact that firing Antoine Kombouaré appears to have been an unbelievably stupid decision then you haven't been paying a whole lot of attention.

Pick: PSG, 2-1

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