David Beckham is set to steal many of the headlines in Ligue 1 this weekend as he prepares to make the penultimate appearance of his glittering career for Paris Saint-Germain, while elsewhere the battle for France’s final Champions League qualifying berth intensifies.
After wrapping up the Ligue 1 title with victory at Lyon last weekend, PSG return to the Parc des Princes to face Brest.
The game itself is a dead rubber as, while PSG are already champions, Brest are already certain to be relegated. But the focus will be on Beckham, and on the atmosphere at the Parc des Princes after the capital club’s trophy presentation in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower on Monday was ruined by violence.
PSG will get another chance to celebrate with their fans on Saturday, and Beckham – who has only made one start and eight substitute appearances in France’s top flight since arriving in January – will surely be given the chance to wave goodbye to the club’s fans before his final appearance at Lorient on Sunday, May 26.
“Saturday, for his last game at the Parc des Princes, we count on all of you to show your joy for having seen him in Paris under the colours of Paris Saint-Germain as well as to celebrate the entire team for its fantastic victory in French Ligue 1,” was the message of club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi after hearing of Beckham’s decision to retire, although he added that PSG are hopeful of continuing to work with the Englishman in some capacity in the future.
Elsewhere, Marseille are guaranteed to finish second and will go straight into next season’s Champions League group stage, but the battle for third place, which carries the reward of a spot in the third qualifying round of Europe’s leading club competition, is still alive.
Lyon currently sit third, and are three points clear of both Lille and Nice and four points clear of Saint-Etienne coming into the final two games.
However, OL must travel to the Cote d’Azur this weekend to face Nice while Lille travel to Montpellier and Saint-Etienne entertain Marseille.
“The best thing for us is to try and win both of our remaining matches and get the points we need as quickly as possible,” said Lyon coach Remi Garde. “But a draw would not be a bad result.”
Saint-Etienne have enjoyed a magnificent campaign, capped by their victory in the League Cup final last month, but they appear to be running out of legs as the finish line approaches.
Les Verts lost 3-1 at Lorient last weekend to end a 16-match unbeaten run in the league and must beat in-form Marseille at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard and hope Lyon slip-up.
“The defeat at Lorient has had an impact on people at the club, but we can’t throw it all away yet,” Saint-Etienne captain Loic Perrin told L’Equipe on Thursday.
“We are just not getting the breaks at the moment but we are creating chances, which is a good sign.”
Lille, who entertain Saint-Etienne on the final day, appear in the best condition to profit from any Lyon slip-up.
Only PSG have collected more points than Rudi Garcia’s side since the start of February and no team has scored more goals in that time. And a Montpellier side who have been in free fall for the last two months could be the perfect opponents.
At the bottom, six clubs are fighting to avoid the final two relegation berths.
Nancy, who entertain Bastia, and Troyes, who host Bordeaux just four days after losing 2-1 at home to the same team in the French Cup semifinals, currently sit in the drop zone.
However, French Cup finalists Evian, Reims, Ajaccio and Sochaux could all still be dragged back into trouble.
Evian v Valenciennes
Montpellier v Lille
Nancy v Bastia
Nice v Lyon
Paris Saint-Germain v Brest
Reims v Lorient
Rennes v Ajaccio
Saint-Etienne v Marseille
Sochaux v Toulouse
Troyes v Bordeaux