Unfancied Normandy club Caen can go second in Ligue 1 on Friday when they visit Rennes while runaway leaders Paris Saint-Germain put their undefeated record on the line at home to Lyon on Sunday.
Few would have expected Caen, whose best top-flight finish was fifth in 1992, to be challenging for Champions League places but while PSG have been, as expected, the dominant force, the battle for European spots is now the main point of interest in France.
Newly-promoted Angers currently hold second spot having lost just three times in 17 outings, although they are a whopping 15 points behind PSG already with the season not yet at its halfway stage.
Angers are not in action until Sunday when they host struggling Bordeaux while, elsewhere, Monaco and Saint-Etienne meet at the Stade Louis II in a battle of two sides who were expected to compete towards the top of the table from the outset.
Monaco have revived their fortunes after a slow start and have climbed to fourth, just one point behind Caen in third while Angers are a further point ahead.
After an awful run of form, Lyon caused a surprise when they beat Gary Neville’s Valencia side 2-0 on Wednesday in the Champions League.
They are currently fifth, three points adrift of the podium so still very much in contention despite poor recent results that have piled pressure on coach Hubert Fournier.
“We showed a different face (on Wednesday) and if we had played this way in some previous games we probably would have fought to be in this competition for longer,” said Fournier, whose team finished bottom of their group and so must now focus purely on domestic matters for the rest of the campaign.
“That’s life. Elite football is not forgiving. However, this game gives us hope, and shows us the path we must take in the league, which is our bread and butter.
“We have a difficult match in Paris on Sunday night,” he added.
Last season’s Ligue 1 player of the year Alexandre Lacazette is a major concern for Lyon after hurting himself while scoring his side’s second goal against Valencia.
“He felt something at the back of his thigh on the run that led to his goal,” said Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas.
Laurent Blanc’s PSG side will be in relaxed mood as they continue a stunning start to their campaign that has seen them drop just six points.
Paris have not lost a domestic game since March and a fourth straight title already appears a formality while the Champions League is the biggest priority with passage through to the last 16 already guaranteed.
Elsewhere, Marseille can continue their mini-revival as they come into their match at home to Corsican side Gazelec Ajaccio on the back of a good run that has lifted Michel’s side into the upper half of the table.
OM come into the weekend in ninth spot but are only six points shy of the top three.
Fixtures (all times 1900 GMT unless stated)
Rennes v Caen (1930 GMT)
Reims v Nice (1500 GMT), Lille v Lorient, Troyes v Bastia, Montpellier v Guingamp, Nantes v Toulouse
Monaco v Saint-Etienne (1300 GMT), Marseille v Gazelec Ajaccio, Angers v Bordeaux (both 1600 GMT), Paris Saint-Germain v Lyon (2000 GMT)
– Agence France-Presse