Win his qualification for the quarter-finals against an Irish province: the challenge is the same for Clermont, Toulouse, who will also want to dispel doubts, and Racing 92, Saturday and Sunday during the 5th day of the European Cup.
. Clermont, start again
Of the three French contenders for the title, Clermont is on paper the least well on board (2nd in his pool with 16 points). But the ASM has the opportunity to switch to the lead by defeating Marcel-Michelin Ulster, its rival for 1st place, on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Beyond the qualification which would be ensured via - at least - a best second ticket, the team of Franck Azéma needs to win to regain confidence. Because if its European course is more than honorable (3 improved successes, 1 defeat with offensive bonus) in a dense group, it is however with the trouble in Top 14 where its services worry.
Swept at Toulouse (34-8) and Toulon (41-19), unable to keep their bonus against Castres (victory 39-22) and to materialize their opportunities in Racing 92 (defeat 27-19), the Auvergne formation points to 8th place in the ranking and has still not gleaned the slightest bonus.
Wednesday, only two of its members (Damian Penaud and the surprise Alexandre Fischer) were called by the XV of France, while they are usually ten ... Arthur Iturria, Alivereti Raka and Rabah Slimani were notably left aside, which, beyond individual cases, is not a sign of good collective health.
But the house is not one to panic, and the time is not for the fight before this important match. "We will try to approach it as calmly as possible and without putting too much pressure", put opener Camille Lopez into perspective.
. Toulouse, the shadow of a doubt
To a lesser degree, Stade Toulousain is in a situation comparable to that of its rival from Auvergne: apart from qualifying places in the league (7th), it remains in two matches without success against Toulon (13-13) and Paris (30- 18) and its flamboyant game suddenly vanished.
Brief slack or serious breakdown? The trip to Connacht on Saturday (4:15 p.m.) will give an initial response. Even if you should not expect a festival in Galway, on the lawn of a province which should offer an Irish game, with a lot of occupation at the foot and without flights.
"Of course you have to change gear, air your head a bit and start again," claims the third line, François Cros. In accounting terms, the French champion, leader of his group with 18 points, can afford a failure. But if he wants to receive in quarters or even in half, it's time to act.
. Racing is unexpected
A home quarterback is also what Racing can aim for if it beats Munster on Sunday (4:15 pm) at the Arena. Unexpected during the draw which had reserved a hen of death with the Saracens and Munster!
Meanwhile, the Sarries, sanctioned in England for having circumvented the ceiling of the payroll and deprived of their vice-world champions, could not start the competition fully and took a hell of a delay (3rd with 10 points ). Above all, Laurent Travers' team has grown in strength: only one defeat in the last block of 9 matches, including a clear success for the Londoners (30-10) and a feat that was just missed in Munster (21-21).
Faced with the same Limerick team, Henry Chavancy and his teammates can kill three birds with one stone: validate their ticket, push a serious competitor towards the exit and get out of reach of the Saracens, to whom they will go during the 6th day.
Saturday and Sunday program
(4:15 p.m.) Glasgow (SCO) - Exeter (ENG)
(2:00 p.m.) Clermont (FRA) - Ulster (IRL)
(2:00 p.m.) Ospreys (WAL) - Saracens (ENG)
(4:15 p.m.) Connacht (IRL) - Toulouse (FRA)
(6.30 p.m.) Gloucester (ENG) - Montpellier (FRA)
(2:00 p.m.) Northampton (ENG) - Treviso (ITA)
Leinster (IRL) - Lyon (FRA)
(4:15 p.m.) Racing 92 (FRA) - Munster (IRL)
© 2020 AFP