Ligue 1 Gameweek 26 Preview: PSG look for boost in title race
Laurent Blanc`s French champions Paris Saint-Germain will be looking to build on an encouraging display in Europe in midweek as they turn their attention back to the fight with Lyon and Marseille at the top of Ligue 1.
Paris: Laurent Blanc`s French champions Paris Saint-Germain will be looking to build on an encouraging display in Europe in midweek as they turn their attention back to the fight with Lyon and Marseille at the top of Ligue 1.
Paris came from behind to claim a 1-1 draw with Chelsea in the Champions League last 16 first leg on Tuesday and now host Toulouse at the Parc des Princes on Saturday.
The capital club have drawn their last two Ligue 1 games, including throwing away a two-goal lead late on in a 2-2 stalemate with Caen last time out.
However, they are unbeaten in their last 10 matches in all competitions and have yet to lose at home this season so will fancy their chances of beating a struggling Toulouse side.
If they do that they will move provisionally top of the table before Lyon and Marseille play on Sunday.
Toulouse will not be relishing a visit to face the champions, even if the hosts have Lucas, Serge Aurier, Thiago Motta and Yohan Cabaye on the injury list while Marco Verratti and David Luiz are both suspended.
Indeed, Toulouse coach Alain Casanova insists that France is blessed to have Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and PSG`s other `extraordinary` players.
"Ligue 1 is very lucky to have players like Zlatan and Thiago Silva. Without being nasty we could have become like Belgium if PSG hadn`t started signing stars," the Toulouse coach said this week.
Gerard Houllier has coached both Lyon and Paris to league titles and this week he tipped PSG to win the championship for the third season running.
"Paris is probably more comprehensive because they really have some key players in key areas," Houllier told beIN Sports.
"Lyon is a young team lacking a bit of experience. But they play very well together and their game is fluent and very entertaining," added the Frenchman, who suggested autumn champions Marseille -- two points off the lead in second -- are running out of steam.
Lyon are unbeaten in 10 league games and are set to welcome back 21-goal leading scorer Alexandre Lacazette as Nantes visit the Stade de Gerland on Sunday.
Lacazette is one of 16 former Lyon youth team players in the senior squad, and one of 12 who were born in the Lyon area.
"Statistics prove that a player has better chances of success when he`s close to home," the head of their youth centre Stephane Roche said this week.
Marseille have won two, drawn two and lost two since the winter break, but Saint-Etienne have lost three of their last four ahead of what should be a boisterous evening at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard as two of France`s best supported clubs go head to head.
Ligue 1`s worst supported club is Monaco, with an average attendance of just 7,835. They travel along the coast to Nice for a Cote d`Azur derby on Friday.
After 14 matches unbeaten Monaco drew at Lyon and then lost at Guingamp in their last two league outings, but they have only conceded twice in 10 matches in 2015.
Goals have been the problem after the summer departures of Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez, and their coach Leonardo Jardim is now banking on veteran Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov.
"We need him on top form. He`s our number one striker and nothing has changed there," explained Jardim, but Berbatov has only six league goals this season.
Nice have won three and drawn three of their last six league games and are coached by Claude Puel, who had a long association with Monaco as a player and then coach.
He will be hoping Monaco already have more than one eye on next week`s trip to play Arsenal in the Champions League.
Fixtures (kick-offs 1900 GMT unless stated)
Nice v Monaco (1930 GMT)
Paris Saint-Germain v Toulouse (1600 GMT) SC Bastia v Lille, Caen v Lens, Evian v Lorient, Rennes v Bordeaux
Guingamp v Montpellier (1300 GMT), Lyon v Nantes, Reims v Metz (both 1600 GMT), Saint-Etienne v Marseille (2000 GMT)