On Saturday, the last round of games will take place as Lille welcomes Nantes to the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, pitting two clubs at different ends of the Ligue 1 standings against one another. With two league games remaining, the home team is in fifth position, two points behind Monaco in fourth place, while the visitors are one point outside of safety in 17th place.
As they presently sit just one point above Stade Rennais outside the top-five spots, the hosts must avoid any mistakes in their pursuit of European football. When Lille defeated Olympique Marseille at home last Saturday, they achieved a significant victory in their bid to return to Europe. Since their thrilling draw with Olympique Lyon in March, Paulo Fonseca's team has won their previous four home games, scoring 10 goals and giving up three.
Currently, Lille is in fifth position in the Conference League, one point ahead of Stade Rennais who are narrowly outside the European qualifying spots, and two points behind Monaco who are in fourth place. However, despite last weekend's humiliating 3-0 loss to Montpellier, Nantes was unable to escape the relegation zone.
Including their dismal 5-1 loss to Toulouse in the Coupe de France final, Nantes has now gone eight games without a victory, picking up three draws, and dropping five games. Nantes is narrowly outside the relegation zone.Get Your Sign-Up Bonus!
Despite spending most of the Ligue 1 season slightly outside the top four, Lille enters the season's last two games with a slim chance of passing Monaco and claiming fourth place, partly because of a pivotal victory last time out.
Lille were within striking distance of the fourth-place team after defeating Ajaccio 3-0, but they swiftly lost ground again in the race for Europa League qualifying after losing against Reims. Marshall Munetsi's goal in the first half was the deciding factor in the match. Following a crucial encounter with Monaco, the two sides' point differential remained at five going into the last three league games after a scoreless draw at the Stade Louis II.
In an effort to rebound from those defeats and maintain their chances of finishing in the top four, Paulo Fonseca's team most recently faced a difficult test at home against third-placed Marseille on Saturday. Despite trailing at the half, they would completely turn the game around by scoring two goals in the second half to secure the victory.
The team of Fonseca is currently two points away from a Europa League spot in France's top division after Monaco lost on their trip to Lyon on Friday. They will look to move up into the top four with a victory on Saturday before their match against Troyes on the final day. They play Nantes, a team that is striving to avoid the Ligue 1 drop zone in its last two games and is similarly in dire need of a victory for other reasons.
The starting lineup for Lille's match against Manchester United on Saturday might not alter from their win over Marseille, although veteran centre-back Jose Fonte will be hoping to rejoin the defence after serving a ban.
After serving his own suspension, Alexsandro and the other defender could reunite in the middle of the defence, with Andre Gomes and Benjamin Andre continuing to play a role in the attack.
Lille's possible starting lineup:
Defenders: Diakite, Alexsandro, Fonte, Ismaily
Midfielders: Gomes, Andre; Cabella, Bayo
Strikers: Bamba, David
Nantes is striving to avoid the Ligue 1 drop zone in its last two games and is similarly in dire need of a victory for other reasons. Nantes has had a difficult season after placing ninth with 55 points the previous time around, as they have only achieved six victories and 33 points from their first 36 games.
When Nantes had 28 points from 23 games in the middle of February, they did appear to be headed for a very comfortable finish. However, they have since had a terrible run of form, failing to win another league game in 13 tries while only accruing five more points.
As a result, Nantes dropped into the bottom four earlier in May. After lossing to Strasbourg, Antoine Kombouare was fired as manager, but Pierre Aristouy, the team's interim manager, has been unable to inspire a comeback thus far. Nantes drew with Toulouse in his first match before most recently being defeated by Montpellier.
Thanks to fellow strugglers Auxerre also suffering a tough run, Nantes remain just a point adrift of safety, but with just two games left to play, they will know that they must put up a result in a tough trip on Saturday while hoping that the 16th-placed side fall to another defeat in their bid to move out of the bottom four.
After being humiliated by Montpellier last weekend, Nantes is sure to make a number of changes. Mostafa Mohamed, who has scored a team-high eight league goals this season since joining on loan from Galatasaray, should return to start at center forward.
While Ludovic Blas, on loan from Nice, is sure to play a crucial part at the tip of the midfield after contributing seven goals and four assists in Ligue 1 this season, Andy Delort, who has played 12 times in France's top division for Nantes, will seek to lead the line once more.
While Nicolas Pallois, Jean-Charles Castelletto, Andrei Girotto, and former Tottenham Hotspur player Moussa Sissoko should all attempt to hold onto their positions in the back three, Moussa Sissoko should return to the lineup to bring experience in midfield.
Nantes possible starting lineup:
Defenders: Castelletto, Girotto, Pallois
Midfielders: Centonze, Moutoussamy, Sissoko, Appuah
Striker: Blas, Simon, Mohamed
Expert Betting Tips
With 22 victories in the past 39 meetings between the clubs, Lille has dominated this match throughout its history. In that time, Nantes has only recorded five victories while 12 victories have been split.
Since suffering a 1-0 setback in September 2015, Lille has gone an impressive 15 games without a loss against Nantes, winning 11 games and drawing four. After losing to Nice in August of last year, Lille has gone undefeated in 18 straight home games in all competitions.
Nantes will put up a brave fight at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Saturday since the outcome will be crucial to their chances of surviving. But Fonseca's team has been virtually unbeatable at home this year, so we think they'll win their sixth straight game at home.