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Pressure on Lyon in French title race

SoccerNews in Ligue 1 10 May 2008

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Defending champions Lyon have the chance to move within one game of a seventh successive French league title when they play third-placed Nancy on Saturday.

On the back of two draws, Lyon have allowed Bordeaux to edge ever closer, and the southwestern side now stand just two points off the champions with a home game against lowly Sochaux to look forward to on the weekend.

Lyon coach Alain Perrin, speaking after seeing his side book a League Cup final against relegation-threatened PSG with a 1-0 win over Sedan on Wednesday, said that May 24 game would take a backseat to Saturday’s crunch match against Nancy.

“We’ll have to produce a great game (against PSG in the Cup final) but before that, let’s finish our work in the league,” Perrin said.

“Against Nancy, we will have to have a Lyon side at the top of its form, physically and also on a combative level. Nancy are very strong in the 50-50s and we’ll have to find some answers as a team.”

Lyon defender Fabio Grosso said the victory over Sedan will have boosted the side. “It’s important for confidence given the end of the season,” he said.

“We have a mental boost. This season has been difficult for us because we’ve been hit by injuries to leading players.

“We’re still there, leading the league by two points two games from the end of the season, and I think we can finish well.”

But Lyon could be without star Brazilian playmaker Juninho, who picked up a knock to his knee in the win over Sedan, in which he scored with a decisive 37-metre free-kick.

Bordeaux host Sochaux with a decimated frontline. Playmaker Johan Micoud (calf), winger Alejandro Alonso (groin), and midfielder Fernando Cavenaghi (suspended) are all out.

Bordeaux central defender Marc Planus denied that his team’s final home match at such an important time of the season was special, preferring instead to focus on getting a result.

“I don’t know if it’s something special,” he said. “Above all, it does represent three points to take in the race for the title.

“We really want to please the fans. We know they’ll be happy of we win. That’s our aim.

“The most important thing will be for us to take the three points on offer to stay in the race. Afterwards, if there are fireworks, it would be that much better for everyone.

“This season, we’ve played very well at home. We must continue on this note and impose ourselves against Sochaux.”

At the other end of the table, there are four clubs tied in a relegation dog fight. Strasbourg have 35 points, while Toulouse, Lens and PSG all have 39. Metz are already guaranteed the dreaded drop with just 21 points.

PSG face a tricky game against fifth-placed St Etienne, while Toulouse travel to Rennes, Lens are hosted by Lille, and Strasbourg entertain Caen.

Other games see Monaco host Auxerre, fourth-placed Marseille travelling to Le Mans, and Valenciennes playing Nice at home.

Fixtures

Lille v Lens, Lyon v Nancy, Metz v Lorient, Monaco v Auxerre, Strasbourg v Caen, Rennes v Toulouse, Bordeaux v Sochaux, Le Mans v Marseille, Valenciennes v Nice, PSG v St Etienne

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