Victory a must as Marseille travel to Lille
French giants Marseille travel to high-flying Lille on Tuesday knowing that they must win if they harbour any hopes of challenging for the Ligue 1 title this season.
Although that objective already appears beyond Elie Baup's men, they must at least take something from the game to remain in Champions League contention.
Marseille won for the third time in a row on Friday with a 2-0 success over 2012 champions Montpellier, currently struggling at the wrong end of the table.
That ensured they remained within sight of the top three but should they lose to Lille at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, they could find themselves distanced to eight points off the top three by the end of the midweek fixtures.
With Lille on a 10-game unbeaten streak and Monaco looking to have got over their November blip and back to winning ways these last two weeks, Marseille know they cannot afford to come away empty-handed from the north.
And they will be looking to in-form forward Florian Thauvin to continue his recent goalscoring run against his former employers.
Thauvin had a difficult start to life on the south coast after his protracted summer move from Lille, and he is not expecting to be welcomed back with open arms.
"The match at Lille will be like any other. I'll get a tough reception but I'm going there to win and take three points," said the 20-year-old, who has scored four goals in his last four league matches.
"I'm delighted to be doing good things for the team. It was my objective to repay the confidence the club has shown in me. I think I'm doing that well now," he added.
Lille coach Rene Girard is hoping his side can continue the impregnable form they've been showing in remaining unbeaten, both in terms of results and goals conceded, for their last 10 matches.
"Ten matches in a row without conceding a goal, that's a first in my career," said Girard.
"That shows the character of this team, the lads are committed, we can play them out of position -- they make sacrifices, they turn up."
Lille have had one less day to recover, though, having played on Saturday.
"The Marseille game is coming quickly and it'll be tough," added Girard.
"We'll try to recover well, we don't have much of a choice.
"We're not going to complain, it would only use up more energy."
Monaco, meanwhile, travel to the Allianz Riviera on Tuesday to face local rivals Nice.
Italian coach Claudio Ranieri has said he is quietly optimistic that record forward signing Radamel Falcao will be fit to return having missed the 2-0 success over Rennes.
Having gone three matches without a win, which saw them drop to third having spent most of the early part of the season at the top of the table, Monaco have now won two in a row.
France midfielder Jeremy Toulalan believes they can continue in that vein right up to Christmas.
"Now we have a match on Tuesday against Nice, a derby," he said.
"We need to win again, the aim is to win all our remaining matches up to Christmas.
"We've just gone through a tricky patch, I hope that was just that.
"I always said we'd have one, afterwards you have to react but the hardest thing is to be consistent."
Champions and leaders Paris Saint-Germain will be looking for revenge when they travel to Evian on Wednesday.
The minnows, better known for their bottled water, were the last side to beat the Parisians, on penalties in a French Cup quarter-final back in April.
Their last league defeat, 26 Ligue 1 matches ago, was to Reims at the beginning of March.
Fixtures (1800 GMT unless stated)
Lille v Marseille, Nantes v Valenciennes, Nice v Monaco (2000)
Ajaccio v Bastia, Guingamp v Bordeaux, Montpellier V Lorient, Sochaux v Reims, Rennes v Saint-Etienne, Evian/Thonon v Paris Saint-Germain (2000)
Lyon v Toulouse (2000)
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