All you need to know about the race for Europe

As they sit in sixth place going into the 38th and final matchday of the Ligue 1 season, OGC Nice are still in with a chance of finishing in a European spot despite their fate no longer being in their own hands. Here’s an overview of the situation ahead of 90 minutes that promise to be decisive for Rennes, Strasbourg, Nice and Lens.


Although it looked to be on the cards at half time in the game at home to Lille (1-0 at HT, 1-3 at FT), Le Gym can no longer finish in the top three. Les Aiglons will finish the 2021-22 campaign somewhere between 4th and 7th, with 8th-placed OL now out of the picture. Whereas 6th and 7th are not European places, 4th and 5th offer a route into continental football.

To go into detail, the team finishing in 4th will qualify directly for the Europa League group stage, whilst the team finishing in 5th will have to go through a play-off round in order to reach the Conference League, the new European competition launched by UEFA last summer.


Le Gym will finish 4th if...

  • they win away to Reims + Rennes lose away to Lille + Strasbourg fail to win away to Marseille
  • Rennes lose + Nice and Strasbourg win. In this case, however, Le Gym would have to score enough to overtake the Alsatians on goal difference (i.e. they would need to win big, as Strasbourg’s goal difference is currently +21, compared to Les Aiglons’ +15; see boxed text below)

Le Gym will finish 5th if...

  • they win + Strasbourg fail to win (but Rennes avoid defeat)
  • they draw + Strasbourg lose + Lens fail to win
  • they and Strasbourg win + Rennes lose (but Nice fail to catch up with Strasbourg on goal difference)

Le Gym won’t finish in a European place if...

  • they lose (unless Strasbourg lose heavily enough away to Marseille for Le Gym to overtake the Alsatians on goal difference)
  • Rennes and Strasbourg win (unless Nice win whilst overtaking the Alsatians on goal difference)
  • their result is worse than Strasbourg’s
  • they draw but Lens win (Les Sang et Or would overtake them due to the rules for classification; see boxed text below)


All matches will kick off at 21:00 CET this Saturday. The four games of interest to Les Rouge et Noir fans are:

  • Reims v. Nice
  • Lille v. Rennes
  • Marseille v. Strasbourg
  • Lens v. Monaco



In the event that teams finish level on points with each other, the first criterion for separation is their goal difference. In this respect, Rennes’ +42 appear to be out of reach for Nice, who are on +15. Therefore, any hypotheses in which Nice overtake the Breton side on goal difference have been deliberately excluded from the presentation above.

In the event that teams finish level on points and level on goal difference with each other, the rules state that head-to-head encounters play a deciding role. With Strasbourg having taken four points against Nice (compared to Nice having taken just one against Strasbourg), the Alsatians would remain ahead of Les Aiglons in the event that they finish level with each other regarding the first two criteria. Therefore, if RCSA were to win, Le Gym would have to win themselves and score at least eight goals in doing so.

Finally, the third criterion is the two teams’ head-to-head goal difference. Therefore, if Lens were to win by a single goal and Nice were to draw, their overall goal differences would both be +15. As a result, Les Sang et Or would overtake Les Rouge et Noir due to their 3-0 win in the two teams’ second encounter of the season (Nice beat them 2-1 in the first).