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Published 09:58 IST, May 3rd 2024

With PSG crowned French champion, the race for remaining Champions League spots rumbles on

Now that Paris Saint-Germain has clinched the French title , the scramble for remaining Champions League places will dominate the final three rounds.

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Brest's head coach Eric Roy reacts during a French League One soccer match between Lyon and Brest at the Groupama stadium, outside Lyon, France | Image: AP
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Now that Paris Saint-Germain has clinched the French title , the scramble for remaining Champions League places will dominate the final three rounds.

Monaco reached the Champions League final 20 years ago and is a competition regular. Heading into this weekend's games, the Principality side sat in second place and two points ahead of third-place Brest, the tiny Brittany club that has never played in Europe's elite club competition.

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Just one point behind Brest in fourth is Lille, which has one of the league's most balanced squads and features Canada striker Jonathan David , who has scored 17 goals. Fifth-place Nice still has a shot, too, five points back of Brest.

The teams finishing second and third will join PSG in the Champions League group-stage draw next season, while the fourth-place team will enter the qualifying rounds.

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Fans should prepare for some entertaining games if Brest — this season’s feel-good story — qualifies under coach Eric Roy, whose attack-minded approach produced some thrilling matches this month.

Brest won 5-4 at Rennes last weekend with the winner coming seven minutes into stoppage time, having lost at Lyon 4-3 after conceding an even later goal. The game before that, Brest beat Metz 4-3 .

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“For the past few weeks, we've been promoting the French league,” Roy joked after the Rennes win. “I hope people are enjoying themselves in front of their televisions.”

Roy has done a remarkable rebuilding job.

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Brest was in the relegation zone when Roy was hired midway through last season and finished 14th. Roy had been 12 years without a coaching job, too.

Brest's annual budget is among the lowest in the league: 48 million euros ($51.5 million), compared to PSG’s whopping 700 million euros ($750 million).

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Winger Romain Del Castillo is Brest's top scorer with eight goals and the best provider with eight assists, which is modest when compared to PSG striker Kylian Mbappé's league-leading 26 goals and seven assists.

Roy's team has no stars but has selfless teamwork in a close-knit squad filled with hard-working players who are close to the fans.

After last Sunday's victory at Rennes in the Brittany derby, a Brest player grabbed a megaphone from the away section and led an impromptu singalong with the Brest fans, with Roy joining in.

That win guaranteed a top-six finish.

“It's a great satisfaction for us, because last season we only stayed up with three matches left,” Roy said. “It's pretty incredible and you shouldn't play it down. They players have been unbelievable all season.”

Brest hosts Nantes, while Monaco welcomes last-place Clermont, with both games on Saturday, while on Monday Lille faces in-form Lyon. Nice doesn't play this weekend.

Monaco striker Wissam Ben Yedder is finding his scoring touch at just the right time. He looked sharp last weekend, netting twice in the 3-2 loss at Lyon. Ben Yedder, whose touch and movement cause problems for defenders, looks to add to his 13 league goals.

Record 12-time French champion PSG is not in action this weekend because it is involved in the Champions League semifinals, while Europa League semifinalst Marseille is also exempt. The second legs of those games are next week.

PSG lost 1-0 at Borussia Dortmund in the first leg on Wednesday, and Marseille was hosting Atalanta later Thursday.

09:58 IST, May 3rd 2024