How the actors of Ligue 2 see the epilogue of the mad race to the rise

Who from Troyes, Clermont, Toulouse, Grenoble, even Paris FC will join Ligue1 directly? Three weeks from the end of this incredible season, if the Trojans have taken an option, it is difficult to answer this question. However, from Batlles to Girard, via Comolli or Gastien, all the players say it: Ligue2 is benefiting this season from a high-quality championship, with an exciting outcome.

“Why us? Difficult to answer. It is true that we were despite everything consistent in the results, roughly on two points per game. Today, we give ourselves the means to be able to try to climb, even if we know that a lot of teams can claim that. ” The humility of Laurent Batlles, the coach of Troyes, does not take away the status of huge favorite from the direct rise of his team. Four days from the end, with five points ahead of the 2nd, Clermont and six over the 3rd, Toulouse (one game less), he knows that if his players spend this weekend the pitfall that represents the reception from Grenoble (4th), Ligue 1 should extend its arms to them.

It must be said that ESTAC was the team that spent the most time on the throne of the championship: twenty times in first place in thirty-four days (against eleven times for Paris FC, twice for Niort , once for Grenoble). All but a coincidence for his technician, on the momentum of last season, finished in 4th place after 28 days, just … two points from Lens, promoted with Lorient at the time of the end of the championship. “After that, I have a group that know each other very well, which played the play-offs two years ago, which missed the play-offs last year with the championship stopped. So there is still a certain form of experience in that too. “

Which will be valuable, even if, once they have faced Grenoble, their last three opponents, Châteauroux, Le Havre and Dunkirk seem within the reach of the Trojans, the game licked and recognized by all in Ligue 2. Even that. Troyes is well placed to know it, beaten in quick succession at home against Nancy (1-5) and Amiens (3-1), respectively 10th and 12th in March. “I find this championship fascinating, admits Toulouse president Damien Comolli. In addition, there is a lot of quality in the game. Last Saturday, against Châteauroux, we had only 37% possession of the ball! the ball the whole game. They’re one of the best teams we’ve played here. Besides, I told their managers at the end of the game. “

Covid obliges, five matches in two weeks for Toulouse

But 2nd on the evening of this match, his team has since seen cases of Covid multiply. Sixteen in two weeks! Suddenly, the late match of TFC in Le Havre, due to the quarter-final of the Coupe de France, and the reception of Pau were moved, forcing the Toulouse to approach the last two weeks of competition with five games on the program. When we see the damage that the epidemic could have done a little earlier in the Clermont ranks (we come back to it), there is something to be worried about for the best attack in Ligue 2 (61 goals in 33 games) in sight of a possible direct rise. Comolli is not putting pressure on itself in relation to this objective.

“It would be a huge disappointment, but it would not be serious, he continues. We would start again next year. It is not vital for the club to move up to Ligue 1. But I repeat, it would be a huge disappointment not to get there. After the race we did… we had two points after four games! And at that time, apart from the coach and me, nobody believed it. We are there today. The only thing I know since we were second before the postponement is that if we win our five games, we go up! ” Behind, there would remain at worst the dams. But after a grueling season, punctuated, unlike the competitors, by a long journey in the Coupe de France, the Toulouse residents should draw heavily on their reserves.

This is what Clermont did not long ago. Also affected by the Covid, the Auvergnats have been able to keep their backs. And the best defense (20 goals conceded only in 34 games!) Struck a blow last Tuesday by winning at Paris FC (0-1), on a goal from the inevitable Mohamed Bayo, top scorer in Ligue 2 this season (19 achievements). Enough to take 2nd place in Toulouse and bulge their torso with determination, like their coach Pascal Gastien: “we were able to win the PFC, we took seven points on them, with a good goal-average, that is, is a good thing. But obviously, there is nothing finished. We know what we want now and we know that it takes a lot of effort. We were very disappointed last year to stop because of Covid. This year, we have the chance to play and to be at the top of the table. I don’t have the impression that the players want to stop there. Me neither. “

“I would like there to be other Laurent Batlles”

Troyes ahead and Clermont (2nd, 63 points), Toulouse (3rd, 62 points) and the Grenoble of Philippe Hinschberger (4th, 61 points) who stand in two points. Just behind, a little further (5th with 56 points), Paris FC, after a great start to the season, seems to be heading towards the dams, even if Auxerre follows suit with only two units. “We weren’t scheduled to go straight up this year, says his trainer René Girard. There are teams like Toulouse, Clermont or Troyes who are, with some who have been running for a long time to go up. They have boys. with experience and lean on it. We will play this top 5 without taking the lead, we whipped for that. And that will give us a chance to hope for something. “

Rise, dams, champion, disappointed, these last three weeks, before the extension of the season, are breathtaking. “Seeing how tight it is, there is everyone, adds Batlles. We have always worked with a lot of humility here and we respect everyone. We don’t know what can happen today. , we don’t know who’s scary, who’s not. It’s very tight, everyone is going to take points and that’s also the beauty of this championship. ” Where there is play, where many games are both tough and fierce. “It is an exciting championship, of quality, a championship where there is play”, abounds Damien Comolli.

“For me, it’s very, very important. You enjoy watching the teams play. Whether it’s us, whether it’s Troyes, Clermont, Auxerre or Châteauroux as I said. It’s a very interesting championship.” Which, in the shadow of Ligue 1, delights insiders. And the Toulouse president, when concluding, to pay tribute to the Trojan leader and his trainer. “As the manager of a French football club, I would like there to be other Laurent Batlles in the division. A young coach, French, ambitious, who plays his team, etc. We, we is lucky to have with Patrice Garande, an experienced coach, who plays his team, who is positive. We are the best attack, we score goals galore. But for the good of French football, I think we needs more Laurent Batlles. ” In the meantime, the original version is Ligue 1 which should certainly soon appreciate it at its true value.

By Wilfried Templier (with VJ, TM and SG)

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