Both of the top two slipped up at home last weekend as the chasing pack close in with just three games remaining. Monaco still lead Ligue 2 with 67 points, but for the second week running, blew the chance to celebrate promotion back to the French top flight. Caen arrived in the principality deep in the promotion race & did their hopes of an instant return to Ligue 1 no harm thanks to an early Romain Poyet strike, much to the disappointment of the 7123 crowd. Nantes went down by the same scoreline to a Clermont side on Monday evening who arrived in the drop zone following Friday’s results. Les Canaries remain five points behind Monaco.
Of the five teams realistically chasing the elusive third spot, four of them took maximum points. Guingamp began Friday in third place & put their away day blues to one side with two late strikes to win 2-0 at Arles. They have 61 points, just one behind Nantes. Caen’s impressive success at leaders Monaco leaves them in fourth on 59 points, ahead of Angers on goal difference after they beat local rivals & relegation threatened Laval 2-0. Dijon move up a place to sixth, five points behind Guingamp after a hard fought 4-2 win over second bottom Sedan but Nimes drop a place after going down 2-1 at Chateauroux & with six points to make up on Guingamp with only nine available, back to back promotions now look unlikely.
Sedan’s loss at Dijon leaves them six points from safety & their fate could be sealed this weekend, but the third & final drop spot looks like going to the wire. Niort dropped into the bottom three for just the third time this season as they were beaten by an early Coulibaly goal at home to Auxerre. Laval’s loss at Angers leaves them one point ahead of Niort whilst both Le Mans (3-1 at Gazelec Ajaccio) & Clermont (1-0 at Nantes) picked up huge points in the battle for survival.
Hertha Berlin need just one point from the remaining two games to be crowned champions after a hard fought 3-2 win over an Aue side who are fighting for their 2.BL lives. Striker Ronny notched his 18th goal of the season & with 2.BL top scorer Domi Kumbela (19) out for the rest of the season, it could be a double celebration in Berlin very soon. Eintracht Braunschweig celebrated promotion at Ingolstadt last week but without the free scoring Kumbela, they couldn’t break down a determined Cottbus side.
Three teams were battling for the one playoff spot & two of those teams clashed as Kaiserslautern, who began the weekend in third, continued their impressive recent home form with a crushing 4-1 win over FSV Frankfurt. FCK scored all four goals in the first half as FSV were swept aside. Fourth placed Koln were beaten at lowly Bochum, who won their fourth game in a row under Peter Neururer & are almost safe. Koln now find themselves four points behind Kaiserslautern with two games left, meaning a win at already relegated Jahn Regensburg on Sunday will seal third place.
Sandhausen were promoted last season alongside Jahn & they will rejoin them in 3.Liga next season, despite beating Ingolstadt 3-1 as Dynamo Dresden’s third home win on the trot means they cannot be caught. Dresden remain in the relegation play off place despite the 2-1 win over a Paderborn side who missed a late penalty. Aue are above Dresden on goal difference & St Pauli are three points in front of the pair after they drew 0-0 at Duisburg, Aue look to have the easier run in of the three sides with St Pauli the hardest as they meet second Eintracht Braunschweig & third Kaiserslautern in the last two games.
All change at the top of Eerste Divisie on the very last day as Cambuur overhauled Volendam to lift the Eerste Divisie crown. Volendam faced a tough trip to Go Ahead Eagles, knowing a point would more than likely be enough for them to be Champions. All was going to plan when Bradley Kuwas shot them into an early lead, but three goals in a 24 minute spell either side of half time gave Volendam a massive shock. The sending off of Bart Vriends didn’t give Volendam the required leverage back into the game as news of Cambuur’s result filtered through, as Go Ahead warmed up for this week’s playoff game at Dordrecht in style. The celebrations were well underway at the Woudestein Stadion as Cambuur made it 2-0 against lowly Excelsior with just four minutes left on the clock to seal promotion with their seventh successive victory, which has seen them go from seventh place to top of the pile & next season they will compete with the Dutch elite for the first time since they finished 17th in the 1999/2000 season.
After winning their last seven games before the Go Ahead defeat, Volendam must now pick themselves up for a playoff campaign which begins next week in Maastricht. The last remaining playoff place up for grabs was snapped up by Dordrecht after they beat Almere City 3-1. They meet Go Ahead in the first round this week. Also in the first round, Fortuna Sittard will face De Graafschap in a two leg affair. De Graafschap won 4-1 at Den Bosch on Friday & Fortuna Sittard drew 0-0 at local rivals & fellow playoff competitors MVV Maastricht. FC Oss lost 2-1 at Emmen, but they needed to better Dordrecht’s result but after spending the majority of the season in the lower reaches, Oss will have been delighted to take the season to the very last day.
Sassuolo are just one win away from Serie A after they drew 1-1 with Padova in front of over 9500 fans, around three times their average. Livorno dropped out of the automatic places after a last minute Carcuro equaliser for Ternana & are replaced by Hellas Verona, who relegated Pro Vercelli with a 3-1 win and making it 11 games unbeaten in the process. The rules in Serie B state that the playoffs can only go ahead if the team in fourth finishes within 10 points of third place. If that doesn’t happen, then the top three are automatically promoted. With two games remaining, Empoli in fourth are eight points behind third placed Livorno & no doubt have the full support of the teams just below. Empoli kept the playoff hunt alive with a 5-1 success at a Vicenza side battling to stay up. If the playoffs do go ahead, four teams are battling for two places. After a great run, Novara are now three without a win as they lost to Bari & have 60 points. Brescia are in sixth place after beating Ascoli 3-2 on 59 points, the same as Varese who were held 2-2 at already relegated Grosseto. Modena are five points from a playoff place & with just two remaining, they must win while hoping the two sides above lose both their games.
With Grosseto & now Pro Vercelli already relegated, it is between Vicenza (38 points) & Ascoli (40) for the last remaining drop spot. Ascoli fans recently broke into the training ground & vented their displeasure at the team’s performances by placing 11 tombstones on the pitch! They host mid table Ternana today & we will see if the fan’s actions have the desired effect. Anything less than two wins for Ascoli & two defeats for Virtus Lanciano will mean if they survive automatic relegation, then will be involved in the relegation playoffs alongside one of eight clubs who could still yet be involved. Reggina are currently in the dreaded 18th place but had a good win at fellow strugglers Cittadella at the weekend.
With promotion all but assured for Elche, all eyes are on the second & final automatic spot with Girona currently holding it thanks a fine 3-2 over Alcorcon after coming back from being 2-0 down at half time in front of a packed Montilivi. Alcorcon swap places with Girona. Villarreal stay fourth after losing for the first time in 15 games as they went down to a late goal in a 3-2 home loss to Elche, roared on by 2000 fans. Levante loanee Angel grabbed the winner four minutes from time. Almeria & Las Palmas remain fifth & sixth respectively after both enjoyed wins. Almeria beat Racing Santander thanks to a brace from Charles taking his tally to 22 for the season while Las Palmas scored twice late on to beat Sporting Gijon. Ponferradina are the only close challengers to Las Palmas for the last playoff spot & they stay two points behind after beating Recreativo Huelva 1-0.
Xerez’s relegation was confirmed as they made it 25 games without a win in a 3-1 loss to Cordoba. Racing Santander (35) & Huesca (36) could well join them soon as the teams above them all seem to be picking up valuable points. Murcia (40) are in the last relegation place after losing to a Real Madrid Castilla side who won their fourth home game in a row. Mirandes (42) picked up a useful point at Guadalajara & Hercules (44) won the crunch clash with Huesca & have won the last three & are nine unbeaten as they are looking good for the great escape.