With their four title rivals not playing until Sunday, third-placed Bordeaux can make a real statement of intent when they travel to Auxerre in the French first division on Saturday.
Marouane Chamakh’s late strike gave last season’s runners-up a 1-0 win at Nancy last weekend and they will go level on points with leaders Lyon if they prevail at Stade l’Abbe-Deschamps.
Laurent Blanc’s men have bounced back from a dreadful February in which they failed to register a single win and will face Lyon at home on April 19 in what could be a crucial game in the title race.
“Before we play Lyon, there is a match against Auxerre to be decided,” warned full-back Matthieu Chalme.
“If we lose and Lyon win (against Monaco), our match against Lyon will be less important. It’s up to us to stick to the leading teams, to do what we have to against Auxerre and make sure our match against Lyon has something riding on it.”
Bordeaux’s cause is further helped by the fact that both Marseille and Paris St-Germain are still involved in the UEFA Cup.
PSG drew 0-0 against Dynamo Kiev in the home leg of their quarter-final tie on Thursday, while Marseille had to endure a long journey home from the Ukraine after losing 2-0 to Shakhtar Donetsk.
Both sides play on Sunday, with second-placed Marseille hosting French Cup semi-finalists Grenoble before PSG face a daunting trip to Lille, who have lost just once at home this season and who are a place above the Parisians in fourth.
Defending champions Lyon host Monaco in Sunday’s late game and have been boosted by the news that forward Sidney Govou has resumed light running after being sidelined since January with an Achilles tendon problem.
Toulouse’s 0-0 draw at Caen last time out made them the only team in the top six to drop points and they are now six points behind Lyon in sixth.
On Saturday they play host to a Nantes side who are just a point above the relegation zone after failing to register a win in their last eight outings.
Second-bottom Caen will look to pull themselves out of the relegation quagmire when they visit basement club Le Havre, who are nine points from safety with eight games remaining.
St Etienne, third from bottom but just a point behind Nantes and Nancy, will hope to become the first side this season to plunder all three points at Rennes.
“We have the heart to stay in this league and to get out of the relegation zone,” said Les Verts striker Bafetimbi Gomis.
“We must continue to keep believing and to keep giving everything.”
The 10-time French champions and 1976 European Cup finalists will be without captain Loic Perrin after he was ruled out for the rest of the season with a thigh injury, but Mouhamadou Dabo and Blaise Matuidi are expected to return.
Saturday (1700GMT unless stated)
Nancy v Valenciennes
Auxerre v Bordeaux
Le Havre v Caen
Le Mans v Sochaux
Nice v Lorient
Toulouse v Nantes
Rennes v St Etienne (1900GMT)
Marseille v Grenoble (1500GMT)
Lille v PSG (1645GMT)
Lyon v Monaco (1900GMT)
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