After Arsenal, mean Monaco look to lock out PSG
Monaco follow up their stunning defeat of Arsenal in the Champions League in midweek by hosting French champions Paris Saint Germain in Ligue 1 on Sunday.
Paris: Monaco follow up their stunning defeat of Arsenal in the Champions League in midweek by hosting French champions Paris Saint Germain in Ligue 1 on Sunday.
Leaders Lyon, who are two points ahead of second-placed PSG, travel to lacklustre Lille, while third-placed Marseille were desperate to stop their slide against form side Caen on Friday.
Monaco`s Portuguese coach Leonardo Jardim has a string of injury worries, his side played 40 minutes with 10 men in last weekend`s 1-0 win at Nice, but the team`s morale is high after the dramatic 3-1 win at Arsenal on Wednesday.
"Now we have to get ready for Paris," Jardim said right after his side blew Arsenal away in their last 16 first leg. "We`ve won nothing yet and need to keep up our momentum, defending well, and attacking well."
Fourth placed Monaco could be forgiven for eyeing third placed Marseille, on whom they have a game in hand and who they trail by seven points with 12 games to go.
Paris were not in action in midweek and it is fair to say the visitors stand to be the fresher force.
But they`ll need to breach a Monaco line-up which has the best defence in both the Champions League and Ligue 1, with Croatian international goalkeeper Danijel Subasic in impressive form.
Monaco`s problem this year has been getting the goals since the departure of Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez.
But Jardim, who has forged a great team spirit, singled out Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov on Wednesday for a "huge" performance.
"We asked him to deliver, and he did that," said Jardim.
Other observers felt midfielder Joao Moutinho`s midfield masterclass was the standout performance.
One man Monaco don`t need to worry about on Sunday is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who is suspended, leaving Laurent Blanc to play Javier Pastore behind fearsome duo Ezequiel Lavezzi and Edinson Cavani.
But Blanc has options in midfield where the brilliant pairing of Blaise Matuidi and Marco Verratti will be bolstered by Adrien Rabiot, who scored twice in the win over Toulouse last week, and the Brazilian David Luiz.
Lyon squeezed past Nantes 1-0 last week as they welcomed back top marksman Alexandre Lacazette from injury and the man with 21 goals from 21 league games will seek to extend that run and Lyon`s tenure at the top when they face Lille away on Saturday.
Lille are in something of a slump. Having ended last season in third they now wallow in 12th, essentially because they have the second least effective attack in Ligue 1, with 21 goals in 26 games.
After three straight league draws, Marseille need three points from their game with Caen Friday to keep up with Lyon and Paris Saint Germain.
"We need a win," lamented Marseille coach Marcelo Bielsa.
And they need that win over a team who have claimed 16 points from their last six league matches, a run that has lifted them clear of the drop zone.
Their resurgence is partly credited to recent loan recruit, the lofty Argentine striker Emiliano Sala, an all around menace who led the fightback to draw 2-2 at PSG, and who bagged a brace in last week`s 4-1 drubbing of Lens.
Fixtures (all times GMT):
Marseille v Caen (2030)
Lille v Lyon (1600), Bordeaux v Reims, Lens v Rennes, Lorient v Bastia, Metz v Evian, Toulouse v Saint-Etienne (2000)
Nantes v Guingamp (1400), Montpellier v Nice (1700), Monaco v Paris Saint Germain (2100)