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Ligue 1: Can Angers still believe in maintaining?

Last Saturday, there are just under ten minutes left to play and Angevins and Lille are still unable to find the fault.

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Ligue 1: Can Angers still believe in maintaining?

Last Saturday, there are just under ten minutes left to play and Angevins and Lille are still unable to find the fault. A draw that does not help anyone and completely slows down Paulo Fonseca's men in their European ambitions. The locals, on the other hand, seem doomed and have one foot and four toes in Ligue 2. Only, after a skillfully played counter-attack, Halid Sabanovic, on the lookout after a strike from Adrien Hunou repelled by Lucas Chevalier, concludes closely (1-0).

At this precise moment, the Raymond Kopa stadium, which spent the majority of the meeting asking for the imprisonment of its now ex-president, exults. Alexandre Dujeux's men hold their first victory since September 18 and a success gleaned on the lawn of Nice (0-1). “It's the victory of a group tonight, who wanted, who was hungry” declared the 47-year-old technician relieved after the meeting.

Because since this clearing in Côte d'Azur, the Angevin season rhymes with depression. On the banks of La Maine, the results are terrible: three wins, five draws and twenty-two defeats. Alarming statistics that reflect one thing with eight games left in the league: the SCO may well be in their place, dead last in Ligue 1.

It must be said that what is happening in Anjou looks like an ordeal and three coaches have already succeeded on the bench. Gérald Baticle, who had maintained the club last year, saw his team sink at the start of the season and was sacked on November 24. To take over from him, the leaders have decided to hand over the reins of the workforce to Abdel Bouhazama, director of the training center who knows the house well.

After another bad series of results, a moon declaration cost him his place. Speaking to his group before the match against Montpellier (March 5, 5-0 defeat), the technician defended Ilyes Chetti, defender of the team, found guilty for acts of aggression sexually, in these words: "It's not mean, we've all touched girls before". The controversy aroused by these remarks had forced his club to part with him and his deputy, Alexandre Dujeux, has since been at the bedside of the team.

And since the beginning of April, Angers is better. On the ground at least because behind the scenes, Saïd Chabane, president of the club since 2011 gave way to his son Romain and was then placed in police custody, suspected of money laundering in an organized gang. By hanging Nice (1-1) and knocking down Lille (1-0), two formations at the top of the table, the Angevins showed heart but also quality.

Amputated this winter from Azzedine Ounahi and Sofiane Boufal, the men of Alexandre Dujeux show beautiful collective sequences. Led in particular by Nabil Bentaleb in midfield, the Angevins were, for example, enthusiastic and voluntary on several occasions and in particular against Lens, before taking on water behind and getting discouraged too easily (3-0 defeat).

In this wind of optimism, the trip to Clermont is worth gold. Faced with practically saved Auvergnats, Angers can get closer to the formations which are also struggling not to go down. Accounting, Ajaccio and Troyes are on the spot and Nantes, Auxerre, Brest and Strasbourg are far from out of the woods.

The margin is still enormous (Angers has 14 points, Nantes, 14th, 31 points) and no team with so few points at this moment of the season has ever managed to stay in the history of the championship (and especially not in a new edition with four descents). Nevertheless, direct confrontations between competitors will multiply and some teams will lose their feathers. The SCO has the luxury of ending its season with the reception of Troyes and a trip to Nantes.

But until then, the calendar does not make a gift. A terrible sequence is looming (PSG, Rennes, Monaco, Marseille and Reims) which makes the task of the SCO much more difficult. The Angevin players know it, the descent is close but as long as there is hope, fighting is obligatory because it allows both to develop individually with a view to a future transfer, and to prepare as well as possible for next season.

Paul Bernardoni, the doorman of the SCO, mentioned the subject this week in the columns of L'Équipe: “Even if the season is hard, what is beautiful with football is that the results unite. There are eight games left: either we get bored, we don't advance, or we try to bring down some big guys. This end of the season will condition the next one for the club and for the players. In this quest, winning against Clermont is therefore imperative.

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