AS Monaco make the journey up to the west of France to take on Nantes in Ligue 1 action this weekend, in what is one of 7 top-flight French football matches being played this Sunday. There are just 9 league matches of the season left to go, and both of these clubs need to pick up 3 points from this meeting for very different reasons. The hosts are currently sat in 14th place, having accumulated 30 points at this point in the season. That is just 4 more than what Auxerre, the team occupying the final relegations pot, have at this point, and so while Nantes should ultimately have just enough quality within their ranks to ensure that they avoid relegation this year, it is still a precarious position to be in at this point in the season.
The relegation battle will be fought by Nantes and the five teams (Angers are practically already relegated) currently below them in the standings, and so even picking up just two or three wins from their remaining fixtures should be enough to guarantee their safety. For Monaco, their target is automatic Champions League qualification. However, they will need to finish within the top 2 to do that, but they are currently in 4th place, meaning that they can only qualify for the Europa league at the moment. However, they are only 3 points behind Lens and Marseille, who occupy 2nd and 3rd place respectively at the moment. Therefore, they just need to keep winning and hope that Lens and Marseille slip up along the way, and this match presents the principality side with what should be a routine win.
Les Monegasques do come into this fixture on a shaky bit of form however, which Nantes can take hope from. Monaco have won their last 2 matches, beating second-bottom side Ajaccio 2-0 before narrowly managing to beat lowly Strasbourg 4-3. However, they did fail to win any of their previous 4 matches before those 2 wins, managing to pick up just a single point from an available 9 in three league fixtures, while also being knocked out of the Europa League on penalties by Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen. They will need to sort out this form heading into the final few weeks of the season, with tricky fixtures against the likes of Lens, Lille and Rennes still to come. But they do have a superior head-to-head record in this fixture, having won 22 of the 39 matches that have taken place between these two sides since 1999, which includes 21 league victories and 1 in the Coupe de France. Monaco also dominated in the reverse fixture back in early October, running out 4-1 winners - we expect a similar scoreline this weekend.
Nantes come into this match in strange form, with 2 draws, 2 losses and 2 wins in their last 6 games in all competitions. Despite suffering losses against both Reims and PSG in the league, they have also surprisingly beaten both Lens and Lyon in the Coupe de France over the last few weeks. But their overall league form is seriously poor, picking up just 2 wins over the course of their last 10 matches. This does not bode well for Nantes going into this match, especially considering the thrashing that they received in the reverse fixture. However, their meeting with Philippe Clement’s side this weekend will be their penultimate game against a top 6 side this season, with Lille being the only other top-6 side left to play. Apart from midtable sides such as Montpellier and Toulouse aswell, Nantes’ 5 other remaining fixtures come against teams who are below them in the table, and picking up some wins in that favourable run of fixtures will be crucial in them avoiding getting sucked into the relegation fight any further.
Now ultimately, Monaco should emerge from this match with a win. Despite their somewhat shaky form as of late, they are still a very good side, and can utilise that strength to beat what is a very poor Nantes side. Monaco’s superior record in this fixture also works in their favour, with Nantes looking unlikely to pick up a first league win in this fixture since 2017 when the sides meet this weekend. The hosts are priced at 29/10 odds to win this match, while Philippe Clement’s side are priced at 17/20 odds to win.