Lille look to clinch Champions League place

09 May 2014 10:04

Lille will hope to extend Paris Saint-Germain's recent run of poor form and beat the newly-crowned champions to clinch a potentially lucrative prize of their own this weekend.

The northern side have been in the top three in Ligue 1 since the start of October but need a win at home to the capital club to make sure of a podium finish and seal qualification for next season's Champions League.

The gap down to Saint-Etienne in fourth is five points, but a Lille slip-up coupled with a win for Les Verts away to Nantes will take the battle for France's last Champions League spot down to the final round of games.

Nevertheless, while PSG have reigned supreme over French football this season, they have gone off the boil since being knocked out of the Champions League by Chelsea last month and have taken just four points from their last four games.

On Wednesday, they were confirmed as champions just before going down to a 2-1 defeat at home to Rennes, while Lille are France's form team at the moment, on a run of 13 games without defeat.

"I don't know what frame of mind PSG will be in on Saturday," admitted Lille coach Rene Girard.

"Will Laurent Blanc rotate his squad? Is it a good or a bad thing that they have already won the title? Maybe some players will already be thinking about the World Cup.

"But they remain a squad full of great players, so we must just worry about ourselves and take the points we need to be sure of taking third place."

- PSG eye points record -

PSG coach Blanc, who on Thursday extended his contract by an extra year through to 2016, has refused to criticise his team for their poor performances in recent weeks but has urged them to go on and set a new record for the most points in a Ligue 1 season.

With two games to go, Paris are only one point away from equalling Lyon's all-time record tally of 84, set in 2006, and Blanc said: "I think this team deserves to be in the record books, but to do that we will need to get points against Lille and Montpellier."

Saint-Etienne are guaranteed Europa League football next season but two wins from their last two games would see them snatch a Champions League place if Lille took no more than one point themselves.

However, Saint-Etienne coach Christophe Galtier is more interested in making sure that his side finish above great rivals Lyon, something Les Verts have not achieved since 1993.

"Lille haven't collapsed so far and I don't see why it would happen now," said Galtier ahead of the visit to mid-table Nantes. "I only want us to focus on ourselves. Our main objective is to secure fourth place."

Marseille could still pip Lyon to the final Europa League berth after winning last weekend's meeting of the clubs to move to within two points of Remi Garde's side.

Lyon are at home to Lorient on Saturday while Marseille go to Bordeaux in what will be Jose Anigo's penultimate game as interim coach before Marcelo Bielsa takes over at the Stade Velodrome in the summer.

At the bottom, the battle to avoid joining Valenciennes and Ajaccio in being relegated to the second tier is intensifying, with Sochaux a point adrift of safety but in fine form.

Herve Renard's side are unbeaten in their last six matches and travel to Rennes, who are now safe after surprisingly beating PSG in midweek.

Evian, in 17th, are at home to Nice before travelling to Sochaux on the final day of the season, while French Cup winners Guingamp, two points above the drop zone, entertain Toulouse knowing a victory will confirm their safety.


Saturday (all 1900 GMT)

AC Ajaccio v Reims, Bordeaux v Marseille, Evian v Nice, Guingamp v Toulouse, Lille v Paris Saint-Germain, Lyon v Lorient, Montpellier v SC Bastia, Nantes v Saint-Etienne, Rennes v Sochaux, Valenciennes v Monaco

Source: AFP