Two mid-table sides meet at the Allianz Riviera Stadium on Sunday afternoon, as Nice and Clermont Foot battle to keep their longshot European dreams alive.
Nice go into the weekend in ninth place in Ligue 1, with a two-point gap to Reims above them, and a further five-point jump to Lyon in seventh. After a poor run of results, their ambitions of qualifying for a European place have taken a huge hit and are looking more and more impossible – with ten-point gap to fifth place Lille who occupy a UEFA Conference League spot. Just seven games remain in Ligue 1 as the curtain begins to fall on another season in the French top tier.
Clermont Foot also occupy a mid-table position, surpassing many expectations to swerve away from a relegation battle. Following their promotion from Ligue 2 in 2021, Les Lanciers managed to survive the drop last season by one place, so will have been expected to battle for their Ligue 1 status again this year, with an extra relegation place to avoid. Instead, Clermont find themselves in 11th place, 14 points away from the bottom four. Pascal Gastien’s side are two points away from Lorient in tenth and their Sunday opponents, Nice, with a five-point cushion over Toulouse in 12th. A win would see CF63 leapfrog Nice and go into the top ten.
Nice began the start of the year well and went on a good run where they were unbeaten in 13 games in all competitions, winning eight, before slipping away in the last couple of months. Didier Digard’s side are currently on a run of six games in all competitions without a win, winless in their last six league games, and losing their last two Ligue 1 games on the bounce. April has been a dire month for the Riviera outfit, starting with a disappointing draw away to a bottom-of-the-table Angers side. Nice followed their draw with Angers up with a home defeat to Paris Saint-Germain, before losing away to Brest came in-between their UECL Quarter-final against FC Basel. After drawing the first leg with the Swiss side in Switzerland, Nice were knocked out in extra-time on aggregate by Basel on Thursday after a 2-1 defeat. The hosts took the lead inside ten minutes, before a late Jean-Kevin Augustin goal took it into extra time. Kasim Nuhu’s 98th-minute strike was enough to send Nice out of the competition.
Clermont Foot will arrive in Nice full of confidence, currently on a three-game winning streak in Ligue. Gastien’s men beat Ajaccio 2-1 at home, before a 2-0 win away to Troyes. Last Sunday, CF63 made it three consecutive victories with a 2-1 home win over Angers – despite ending the game with nine men! The away side took the lead before two penalties turned the game in Clermont’s favour just before halftime. Neto Borges saw red in first-half stoppage-time for the hosts, but Angers couldn’t take advantage of the extra man in the second half. Clermont were reduced to nine men in injury time, but still held on to secure the three points.
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