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All set for last day drama

Published: Saturday 24 May 2003, 0.47CET
The title races might be over, but there is still plenty to play for as the league seasons conclude this weekend. features

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Published: Saturday 24 May 2003, 0.47CET

All set for last day drama

The title races might be over, but there is still plenty to play for as the league seasons conclude this weekend.

The title races might be over, but there is plenty to play for as league seasons conclude in France, Germany and Italy this weekend.

Champagne on ice
In Le Championnat, only a miracle can deny Olympique Lyonnais a successful title defence. Paul Le Guen's team enter their final match at home against En Avant Guingamp with a three-point lead over Olympique de Marseille, and a goal difference that is 19-goals superior to that of the second-placed team.

Mediterranean rivals
Marseille will be playing for second position and automatic entry to the UEFA Champions League when they visit an FC Nantes Atlantique side celebrating 40 years of top-flight football. AS Monaco FC, a point behind the Vélodrome club, have a slightly easier assignment at home against relegated ES Troyes Aube Champagne, although they look certain to finish in the top three and qualify for the Champions League anyway.

Ups and down
That being the case, the UEFA Cup spot Monaco took by winning the French League Cup will go to the side in fifth position, leaving fourth-placed FC Girondins de Bordeaux, FC Sochaux-Montbéliard, AJ Auxerre and Guingamp to contest the remaining two European places. At the wrong end of the table, two from Le Havre AC, CS Sedan-Ardennes, Stade Rennais FC and AC Ajaccio will follow Troyes into the second division.

Leverkusen threat
All eyes in the Bundesliga will be on Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Klaus Augenthaler takes last year's Champions League finalists to 1. FC Nürnberg knowing that only a win will guarantee top-flight status. Anything less and DSC Arminia Bielefeld, a point behind Leverkusen in the third and final relegation place, could overhaul them by beating Hannover 96. Meanwhile, VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach need a draw against SV Werder Bremen to be mathematically certain of avoiding the drop. Nürnberg and FC Energie Cottbus are already relegated.

Travel plans
There are European issues to be resolved too, with VfB Stuttgart and Hamburger SV vying to join champions Bayern and BV Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League. Stuttgart could yet take second spot - and qualify directly for Europe's top competition - if they defeat VfL Wolfsburg and Dortmund slip up against Energie. However, they could also be overtaken by Hamburg who face FC Hansa Rostock. As it stands, though, Hamburg and Bremen, in fourth and fifth positions, will claim UEFA Cup berths.

Local rivalry
It is a similar story in Serie A, where Internazionale FC hope to keep second place from neighbours Milan. Inter, with a three-point advantage, entertain AC Perugia while the Rossoneri travel to Piacenza FC. Whatever the outcome, both will play in the Champions League next term with Juventus FC and S.S. Lazio.

Play-off looms
Meanwhile, AC Chievo Verona will secure one of two outstanding UEFA Cup berths with victory against Juve, although they face competition from Parma AC and Udinese Calcio. At the bottom, one from Reggina Calcio, Atalanta BC and Modena FC will be relegated. The former two clubs are locked on 35 points, two behind Modena, and a play-off will be needed if both lose or draw on Saturday. Torino Calcio, Como Calcio and Piacenza are already down.

Spanish showdowns
The big question in Spain is whether Real Sociedad can hold on to their lead at the top of the Primera División. The team from San Sebastian are a point clear of Real Madrid CF and three above RC Deportivo La Coruña with four games to play. First up for 'la Real' is a trip to Málaga CF, while Madrid travel to Valencia CF. Deportivo also have it tough with a Galician derby at RC Celta de Vigo.

Turkish delight
In Turkey, meanwhile, Besiktas JK can claim their first championship since 1995 when they play Galatasaray SK at home on Sunday. Besiktas lead their Istanbul rivals by five points with two matches left, so a draw will be enough to spark title celebrations at the Inönü stadium.

Last updated: 10/12/17 5.41CET

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