Ligue 1 2012, Week 38 Preview And Fixtures: The Relegation Fight "Explained"

BREMEN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 29: Olivier Giroud of France celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the International friendly match between Germany and France at Weser Stadium on February 29, 2012 in Bremen, Germany. (Photo by Joern Pollex/Bongarts/Getty Images)

It's okay to admit that you have no idea what's going on. Go on, you'll feel better.

The last day of the Ligue 1 season brings with it (as always) plenty of drama. Here's a quick rundown of all of the different scenarios:

Title Race: It's all Montpellier's to lose; thanks to some last second heroics from Karim Ait Fana and Olivier Giroud, MHSC need only a draw against Auxerre, the only team to be relegated before the last weekend of the season. Should Montpellier somehow manage to lose, PSG would need a victory against Lorient to claim the title; with the two top sides even on goal difference, any margin of victory would be enough.

Champions League
: Done and dusted. Barring one of the top three being docked points for some unforeseen reason, Montpellier, PSG and Lille will be France's Champions League representatives next season.

Europa League: Thanks to Marseille's Coupe de la Ligue win, only two Europa League places can be claimed via finishing order. With Coupe de France winners Lyon having a comfortable grip on 4th place, four teams are still mathematically in the running; if there is a winner between 5th-placed Bordeaux and 6th-placed St. Etienne, that team will most likely end up with the spot. Rennes could sneak in in the event of a draw between the two sides ahead of them, and should they manage to defeat Dijon by a large enough margin they could claim the place on goal difference even if St. Etienne defeats Bordeaux. A lot of things would have to go right for Toulouse to leapfrog the other three sides, but if everyone else draws and they manage to beat Ajaccio they'll take 5th.

Relegation Battle:

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via gifsoup.com

Okay, so I guess you probably want details. *deep breath* Auxerre has been relegated, so that's that. Dijon is in a heap of trouble, as they'll need to pick up a win away from home against a Rennes side chasing the Europa League and hope for a massive (and I do mean massive) dose of good luck to avoid the same fate. Ajaccio will likely need three points as well thanks to the hole created by their inferior goal differential, and Toulouse is not the kind of team against which it's easy to erase such a deficit. To be clear, the current state of the relegation zone is ultimately the most likely outcome.

But! Caen, Brest, Sochaux, Lorient, Nice and Valenciennes are all still in at the very least mathematical danger of going down. Caen is the most vulnerable, even on points with 18th placed Ajaccio, facing a Valenciennes side that will likely be able to secure safety with a draw and at a disadvantage compared to the other sides in serious danger. Despite also having the same number of points as Ajaccio, Brest's -8 goal differential should be a major guard against the drop, and facing off against an Evian team that has little to play for will likely be a bit of an advantage.

Sochaux is one to watch, because while Marseille has been beyond disappointing this season they're clearly a talented group and will not want to slip into the bottom half of the table. Given their poor goal differential, Sochaux shouldn't feel the least bit safe despite their place three spots above the relegation zone. Lorient would likely be safe with a draw, but facing a PSG side needing a win to have any chance at the title that will be a difficult task. It would be harsh on Les Merlus were they to go down and the odds are very much against it, but it's still plausible. Nice and Valenciennes are still mathematically vulnerable, but if either ends up being relegated it would serve as proof that god hates them.

Auxerre vs. Montpellier

Sunday 5/20; 21:00 CET/3:00 PM ET

Pick: Montpellier, 3-1

Lyon vs. Nice

Sunday 5/20; 21:00 CET/3:00 PM ET

Pick: Lyon, 2-0

Sochaux vs. Marseille

Sunday 5/20; 21:00 CET/3:00 PM ET

Pick: Draw, 2-2

Rennes vs. Dijon

Sunday 5/20; 21:00 CET/3:00 PM ET

Pick: Rennes, 2-1

Lorient vs. PSG

Sunday 5/20; 21:00 CET/3:00 PM ET

Pick: PSG, 3-0

St. Etienne vs. Bordeaux

Sunday 5/20; 21:00 CET/3:00 PM ET

Pick: St. Etienne, 2-1

Toulouse vs. Ajaccio

Sunday 5/20; 21:00 CET/3:00 PM ET

Pick: Toulouse, 1-0

Valenciennes vs. Caen

Sunday 5/20; 21:00 CET/3:00 PM ET

Pick: Valenciennes, 3-2

Lille vs. Nancy

Sunday 5/20; 21:00 CET/3:00 PM ET

Pick: Lille, 3-1

Evian vs. Brest

Sunday 5/20; 21:00 CET/3:00 PM ET

Pick: Draw, 1-1

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