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Ligue 1 Preview: Victory only hope for Troyes

Troyes head into the final weekend of Ligue 1 action knowing a fourth-straight win is their only hope of avoiding relegation.

Ligue 1 will finish on Sunday with Troyes and Sochaux the two teams most likely to join Nancy and Brest in dropping out of France’s top division.

Troyes (18th on 37 points and with minus 17 goal difference) can leapfrog Sochaux (17th on 40 and minus 16) on the final day of the season if they win on the road at 13th-placed Valenciennes.

But Troyes will also need Sochaux to lose away to 12th-placed Bastia if they are to complete their late charge up the Ligue 1 standings this month, having risen from the foot of the table at the start of May to within three points of safety in three matches.

Troyes have won their past three matches in Ligue 1, defeating Bordeaux, Ajaccio and Evian TG, all by a 1-0 margin, but defender Matthieu Saunier has urged his team-mates to keep it simple against Valenciennes rather than focus on what the result might mean at the Stade du Hainaut.

“We’ll be under pressure at Valenciennes, of course we will but we need to put what’s at stake to one side,” Saunier told Ligue1.com.

“We have to play our football and what’s at stake mustn’t kill the game.

“We’ve got great team spirit…and that’s what might help us stay up.”

Sochaux head coach Eric Hely has used a similar tactic to Saunier, emphasising his team’s ability to get the job done under pressure ahead of their trip to Corsica to play Bastia.

Ajaccio and Evian are also on 40 points but due to their superior goal differences they are unlikely to drop below Troyes and into the relegation zone even if they lose to Nice and Bordeaux respectively.

Saint-Etienne will be hoping to overhaul local rivals Lyon on Sunday and clinch a spot in next season’s UEFA Champions League when they travel to fifth-placed Lille.

Lyon currently sit in third position on the Ligue 1 table, which comes with a berth in the qualifying stages of the 2013-14 Champions League, with 64 points, while Saint-Etienne are fourth with 62.

Lille could snatch third spot if they defeat Saint-Etienne and Lyon lose to Rennes, although goal-difference would most-likely be a deciding factor.

In other matches, Brest will take on Nancy with both sides looking to leave Ligue 1 with a win, while Marseille will host Reims and Toulouse are set to play Montpellier.

Fri 24 May, 2013
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