Final day looming in Spain, France to decide Champions League places

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While the top of the Premier League table is almost certainly decided, other top European leagues still have fierce battles for very important spots, with most countries wrapping up their domestic leagues on Saturday.

The most heated is in France, where Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon have both wrapped up top-2 spots, but the battle for third is lasting until the final day. In Ligue 1, only three Champions League places are handed out, Monaco, Marseille, and St. Etienne are all in serious contention.

Monaco has the inside track, with a two-point head start over the other two clubs and a last-day match on the road at 16th-placed Lorient. The hosts will have little to play for in that match, having assured themselves of Ligue 1 survival. However, Monaco did fall to Lorient in the reverse fixture, a 2-1 final all the way back on August 10 in the opening week of the season.

In that match, Monaco must remember a draw against Lorient may not be enough to secure a place in the Champions League. Despite their two-point advantage in the table, Marseille has a vastly superior goal differential, so should the two sides wind up level, Marseille would almost certainly earn the spot.

Marseille will be taking on 11th placed SC Bastia at home on the final day, a rematch of a 3-3 draw also from the first week of the Ligue 1 season. Marseille will need to do better than that, as they’ll need a win plus a Monaco draw or loss to earn the place. OM’s disastrous April, complete with four straight embarrassing losses, looked to have torpedoed their chance at a Champions League place, but there’s still hope as they’ve since rattled off three in a row, and Ligue 1’s second-leading scorer Andre-Pierre Gignac has put himself back in good goalscoring form.

St. Etienne also has a shot at the position, but they’ll need lots of help. They have a home date with 10th-placed Guingamp, and will need a win plus dropped points from both Monaco and Marseille to take the Champions League position.

The race in Spain is also still alive, albeit not as exciting as the one in France. With the Big 3 already safe in their spots for next year, the final Champions League position comes down to Valencia and Sevilla on Saturday. The former has a point advantage and the head-to-head points tiebreaker, so they just need to best or equal Sevilla’s final match haul and they go through to the big dance.

Valencia will host 19th-placed Almeria, no easy task as the Rojiblancos are battling relegation and still have a chance to sneak off the bottom; the last thing anyone battling for a Champions League spot wants to do is take on a team fighting for its lives. Sevilla, meanwhile, has a tough task of its own on the road against eighth-placed Malaga. They did win this reverse fixture 2-0 back on January 18, and are in good form having lost just once since the beginning of March, with draws against Atletico Madrid and Barcelona during that span.

Italy’s Serie A has a fight as well, although there are still two matches left in their season. Roma, Lazio, and Napoli are battling for the second and third and final Champions League spot behind champions Juventus, and all three can still fall out. Roma is sitting in second on 67 points, while Lazio is just one behind and Napoli is four back. The latter will have a very tough task to make up ground, with a matchup against Juventus this weekend before what could be a massive last-round matchup with Lazio on the final day.