Division 1 Féminine - Matchday 16 Preview: Relegation scrap heats up

The focus is at the bottom, not the top, this weekend in France's top flight of women's football.

Division 1 Féminine - Matchday 16 Preview: Relegation scrap heats up
Can Rodez spring a surprise against Juvisy after reaching the last eight of the cup? | Photo: ville-rodez.fr

After another break for some Coupe de France Feminine action, the Division 1 Feminine resumes this weekend as the relegation battle prepares to heat up.

With those at the top having routine fixtures, all eyes will be on the bottom of the standings as we enter the final - and crucial - weeks of the season.

Big battles at the bottom

This weekend presents a chance for certain teams to make up ground in the relegation scrap, with four teams languishing near the bottom to face the top four.

AS Saint-Étienne, Rodez, La Roche-sur-Yon and Nîmes Metropole Gard all come up against the division's big quartet, giving those around them the opportunity to claim some even more crucial points.

The biggest game at the bottom sees Guingamp host VGA Saint-Maur, with the former sat just one place above the drop zone and the latter well inside it.

Guingamp beat Saint-Maur 3-1 earlier this season and a win this weekend would put them six points clear of the drop zone - granted La Roche fall at the hands of Montpellier, as expected.

A result the other way, meanwhile, would bring Saint-Maur much closer to an unlikely escape, whilst dragging their opponents well into the scrap for survival.

That's certainly the game with the most riding on it this weekend, but ASPTT Albi's trip to Soyaux carries similar significance. With both sat just above the bottom three, a win would propel them well clear of danger - for the time being.

The reverse of this fixture only produced a goalless draw but, with this game much more important, we can expect to see more goal-mouth action this time round. That action is unlikely to take place in Albi's final third though, with them having failed to find the back of the net in their last three outings.

Routine week at the top

At the opposite end of the table, nothing but wins for the big four will be expected. Those results will have a significant impact on the bottom of the standings too.

First up, Saint Étienne face league leaders Olympique Lyonnais, with the former not in any real danger in mid-table but keen to keep up some good form to ensure this remains the case. However, damage limitation will be the focus on Saturday as they try and keep their pride in tact against France's champions in the waiting.

Chasing Lyon closely are Paris Saint-Germain, with them just three points behind and keen to take advantage of any slip ups. This weekend, neither will falter though, with PSG's fixture seeing them travel to face bottom side Nîmes - who are eight points from safety.

No one will expect neither Lyon nor PSG to drop points this weekend. | Photo: Maya Mans
No one will expect neither Lyon nor PSG to drop points this weekend. | Photo: Maya Mans

Montpellier too have a straight forward game against La Roche, who are just inside the drop zone but unlikely to better that situation against a side pushing for a Champions League spot.

The one remaining game, however, promises to be a tighter clash as Juvisy travel to face Rodez. The latter are just one place below their opponents, albeit separated by 14 points, and are full of confidence after securing their place in the last eight of the cup last time out.

Juvisy have been a model of consistency against the teams below them this season, but they have struggled against the top three and could do so against Rodez too.

The visitors will go into the game as favourites, especially after winning the reverse 3-0, but it will be tight and well-contested nonetheless.