PSG turn focus to double bid after Euro exit
Paris: Paris Saint-Germain go to Ligue 1`s bottom club Troyes on Saturday with the focus on their bid to win a first-ever domestic league and cup double following their exit from the Champions League in midweek.
The French capital club bowed out of Europe`s leading club competition at the quarter-final stage on Wednesday, losing on away goals to Barcelona after a 1-1 draw in the second leg at the Camp Nou.
Carlo Ancelotti`s side came agonisingly close to beating the team regarded as the best in the world in recent years but, despite the disappointment at seeing their Champions League dream ended, there were plenty of positives to take from their continental campaign.
Now they will be aiming to strengthen their position at the top of the Ligue 1 table when they go to Troyes before a French Cup quarter-final tie away to Evian next Wednesday.
PSG are seven points clear of Marseille at the summit with just seven games remaining, and a first league title since 1994 is now very much in sight.
"We were knocked out by the best team in the world, but without losing," said sporting director Leonardo, after PSG held the Catalans to a 2-2 draw in last week`s first leg.
"It is incredible but that is the way it is. Now we must focus on the league. That was our primary objective at the start of the season and we will do everything to win it."
PSG will be missing 26-goal top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic due to suspension at the Stade de l`Aube, but they should still be far too strong for a side who prop up the table and lie six points from safety after winning just one of their last nine games.
"It is an enormous challenge, colossal," admitted Troyes coach Jean-Marc Furlan, who saw his team lose 4-0 at the Parc des Princes in November and must do without on-loan PSG striker Jean-Christophe Bahebeck due to suspension on Saturday.
The outstanding game of the weekend in Ligue 1 is on Sunday night, when in-form Lille play host to second-placed Marseille at the Grand Stade, which will be filled to it`s near-50,000 capacity.
Lille have played themselves into contention for a top-three finish, and a place in next season`s Champions League, thanks to a run of seven wins in eight games, while OM have made a habit of grinding out wins this season, with a five-game unbeaten run taking them up to second place.
"Lille beat Lorient 5-0 last weekend and have been playing well for several weeks now," warned OM`s Ghanaian star Jordan Ayew, "They had problems at the start of the season but are playing with confidence now and it will be hard there."
Another Champions League contender, Saint-Etienne, are also in action in France`s far north this weekend as Les Verts travel to Valenciennes on Friday in a clash between the best and worst teams in Ligue 1 since the winter break.
Saint-Etienne are still unbeaten in 16 games in all competitions in 2013, while Valenciennes have the worst record of any team in the division since the winter break and are in danger of being dragged into the relegation battle.
Lyon, meanwhile, are in serious danger of missing out on a Champions League qualifying berth after a run of five games without a win which has seen them drop out of the top three for the first time since August.
OL entertain mid-table Toulouse at the Stade de Gerland on Sunday and coach Remi Garde knows his team have to get their house in order quickly.
"The longer we go without winning, the more urgent our situation becomes," admitted Garde after Lyon went down 1-0 at Reims last weekend.
"We still have our fate in our own hands. That is the most important thing."