Paris, May 20, 2022 (AFP) - Two of France's great footballing institutions stand on the brink of relegation from Ligue 1 with Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne sitting in the bottom two before Saturday's final matches of the season.
For Bordeaux the game is effectively up already, as they sit three points adrift of Metz in the relegation play-off place and with a considerably worse goal difference.
A win away at mid-table Brest would be unlikely to save them even if other results go their way.
Saint-Etienne are level on points with Metz and trail them by just six goals, meaning there is still greater hope.
They go to French Cup winners Nantes on Saturday, while Metz must go to champions Paris Saint-Germain.
Whoever finishes third-bottom will have another chance to secure top-flight survival in a play-off against the winner of this Friday's Ligue 2 play-off between Auxerre and Sochaux.
This has been coming for Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne, two iconic clubs with 16 league titles between them.
Bordeaux were champions as recently as 2009 and Champions League quarter-finalists the following year, but decline soon set in despite a move to a new stadium in 2015.
Les Girondins went into administration last year when American financial group King Street decided they wanted out, and a sale to former Lille owner Gerard Lopez has not helped turn the tide.
On the pitch they have been a shambles, with ex-Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic appointed in the summer and sacked in February.
His replacement, David Guion, has overseen just one win, and they have conceded an astonishing 89 goals this season.
Supporters mocked their team by throwing toilet roll onto the pitch in last Saturday's 0-0 draw with Lorient which all but sealed their fate.
"When you don't work hard at school you end up having to repeat a year," former Bordeaux star, and France World Cup winner, Bixente Lizarazu told Le Parisien.
He said Lopez was "responsible for recruiting players and coaches but also for creating a good working environment, which has been far from the case. Everything put together has led to this disaster."
The last time Bordeaux went down was in 1991, when they finished 10th but were demoted due to their debts. They came straight back up, signed Zinedine Zidane and by 1996 were in the UEFA Cup final.
Saint-Etienne have not won the title since the days of Michel Platini in 1981 and this season PSG equalled their record of 10 championships.
Les Verts, European Cup runners-up in 1976, were most recently in the second tier in 2004.
They too are in turmoil off the field as they look for a new buyer, and American billionaire David Blitzer was this week linked with a bid for the club.
Pascal Dupraz replaced Claude Puel as coach in December and oversaw an upturn in results, but they approach the final day having taken just four points from their last eight games.
Meanwhile, Monaco and Marseille each require a point to guarantee a crack at next season's Champions League, but Rennes still have a chance of finishing above them.
Player to watch: Kylian Mbappe
Supporters of PSG and Real Madrid are on tenterhooks, waiting to find out where Mbappe will play next season. His contract expires next month, meaning PSG's meeting with Metz on Saturday could be his last for the club.
Perhaps Mbappe, who won the Ligue 1 Player of the Year prize last weekend, will choose to reveal all immediately after the game when PSG receive the championship trophy.
9 - Monaco have won their last nine Ligue 1 games in a row to surge into the Champions League places.
30 - Bordeaux have spent 30 consecutive seasons in the top flight. Only PSG (48 seasons) and Lyon (33) have been in Ligue 1 for longer.
42 - Kylian Mbappe has been directly involved in 42 goals in Ligue 1 this season for PSG, scoring 25 and providing 17 assists.
Fixtures on Saturday
- Angers vs. Montpellier
- Brest vs. Bordeaux
- Clermont vs. Lyon
- Lens vs. Monaco
- Lille vs. Rennes
- Lorient vs. Troyes
- Marseille vs. Strasbourg
- Nantes vs. Saint-Etienne
- Paris Saint-Germain vs. Metz
- Reims vs. Nice