Tensions hit Marseille ahead of Rennes clash
Paris: Infighting at Ligue 1 champions Olympique Marseille is threatening to distract the team from their key top-of-the-table clash with leaders Stade Rennes on Saturday (1900GMT).
Coach Didier Deschamps, who led OM to their first league title in 18 years last season, and the outspoken sports director Jose Anigo have been at odds following a difficult close season.
The row centred on the failure to sign Brazil striker Luis Fabiano from La Liga side Sevilla with the club`s president forced to step in as peacemaker.
"I have identified the person(s) who have interest in me leaving," the Marseille-born Anigo said last week.
"Didier and I are not the best friends in the world."
Anigo`s comments prompted president Jean-Claude Dassier to try and ease the tension.
"Let me tell you: Anigo represents Marseille`s history and Didier is an outstanding coach. So my job is to make them work together," he said.
On the pitch, Marseille have been far from convincing since the start of the season but they still sit second in the standings only a point behind Rennes, who they host on Saturday.
Deschamps fielded a mostly reserve team in a 1-0 win at third division En Avant Guingamp in a League Cup last 16 game on Wednesday but lost defender Stephane Mbia through injury [ID:nLDE69Q2E7].
"I am glad that I could put a few players to rest for that game at Guingamp," said Deschamps.
"But we had two minor injuries and if the players are not fit on Saturday, we will have to use players who were fielded against Guingamp."
PAYET TO RETURN
Rennes, with 19 points from 10 games, should be able to recall Colombian striker Victor Montano, who took part in training on Tuesday after recovering from a thigh injury.
Promoted Stade Brest, who are a surprising fourth, are also in action on Saturday (1700) as they host third-placed St Etienne in a stern test of the Brittany side`s Ligue 1 credentials.
St Etienne are expected to welcome back the league`s top scorer Dimitri Payet, who missed his team`s League Cup 1-0 win over Girondins Bordeaux on Tuesday through suspension.
Olympique Lyon, reeling from their extra time League Cup exit against Paris St Germain, host Sochaux on Saturday (1700).
Lyon, French champions for seven consecutive years from 2002, are a disappointing 14th in the standings, seven points off the pace.
Paris St Germain will hope to bounce back from last weekend`s home defeat against AJ Auxerre when they travel to Montpellier on Sunday (2000).