Having lost their lead to Marseille last weekend, reigning French champions Lyon face a make-or-break clash at fellow title hopefuls Bordeaux on Sunday.
Lyon’s dreams of an eighth straight Ligue 1 crown were dealt a sizeable blow when they were held 2-2 at home to Monaco last week, allowing Marseille to ascend to the summit thanks to an emphatic 4-1 victory over Grenoble.
The champions have won just two of their last six league games and face an arduous run-in that features trips to Marseille and fourth-placed Toulouse, as well as a home game with Paris St-Germain.
“Since the beginning of the week we’ve worked really hard to prepare for this match at Bordeaux,” said Lyon’s France international striker Karim Benzema.
“Everyone knows that we have to take the three points. It won’t be easy. The league is tight and we could quickly fall from first to fifth or sixth. But we’re ready to face this challenge.
“We have to show something else than what we showed against Monaco,” he added. “We have no choice if we want to win an eighth title.”
Bordeaux have been hit by a raft of injuries in recent weeks, with top scorer Fernando Cavenaghi, midfielder Jussie and defender Henrique all sidelined, but have still managed to win five of their last six league matches.
“We’re at the end of the season and we have lots of injuries,” admitted Malian midfielder Abdou Traore.
“We’re doing our best with what we have and at the moment it’s working, which is the important thing. But we hope they can come back quickly.”
Should Lyon lose at Bordeaux and Marseille win at Lorient, Eric Gerets’s side would open up a four-point lead over the champions with just six games of the season remaining.
Marseille president Pape Diouf, though, believes it is too early for the Mediterranean club, who were knocked out of the UEFA Cup on Thursday, to start thinking about a first league title for 17 years.
“There’s no need to get excited,” he told French sport daily L’Equipe.
“We are in a comfortable situation but it remains very fragile. Lyon still have their destiny in their own hands.
“At the beginning of the season the objective was the Champions League, therefore a place in the top two. But, taking into consideration our situation, we now have the ambition to win the championship.”
At the other end of the table, four of the bottom five play at home this weekend.
Second-bottom St Etienne host fifth-placed Lille and third-bottom Nantes welcome Nice to the Stade de la Beaujoire, while Caen and Sochaux – both just outside the drop zone – take on Nancy and Auxerre respectively.
Le Havre, who are bottom of the table and 10 points from safety, face a daunting trip to sixth-placed PSG, another midweek UEFA Cup casualty, as they seek to delay their seemingly inevitable relegation.
Saturday (1700GMT unless otherwise stated)
Caen v Nancy, Grenoble v Toulouse, Monaco v Rennes, Nantes v Nice, Sochaux v Auxerre, Valenciennes v Le Mans, St Etienne v Lille (1900GMT)
Sunday (1500GMT unless otherwise stated)
Lorient v Marseille, PSG v Le Havre, Bordeaux v Lyon (1900GMT)
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