PSG look to maintain distance from Ligue 1 rivals

17 January 2014 01:46

Paris Saint-Germain will look to underline their superiority over the rest of Ligue 1 with a win when they play host to Nantes at the Parc des Princes on Sunday night.

Laurent Blanc's side come into the weekend five points clear of Monaco at the summit and with confidence high after a clinical 3-1 win away to Bordeaux in the quarter-finals of the League Cup in midweek.

The capital outfit have been beaten just once - a 2-0 reverse at Evian last month - in domestic competition all season, and remain on course to win a domestic treble.

Tuesday's win against Bordeaux set up a League Cup semi-final away to Nantes at the Stade de le Beaujoire in early February, but it is at the Parc des Princes where the teams meet this weekend.

Les Canaris are enjoying a fine campaign themselves and lie in sixth place coming into the weekend but PSG are unbeaten in front of their own fans since November 2012, so anything other than a home win would be a huge surprise.

Blanc had the luxury of rotating his squad at Bordeaux, while Ligue 1 top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic only played the first 45 minutes.

The coach was delighted with the performances of fringe players such as Javier Pastore, who scored one goal and set up another at the Stade Chaban-Delmas.

"I was satisfied with individual performances but especially the collective performance," said Blanc.

"We are playing on all fronts and we don't have any serious injury concerns or suspension worries over yellow cards, but we are still a long way from the 'Grand Slam'," he continued, with PSG also looking forward to a Champions League last-16 tie against Bayer Leverkusen next month.

Monaco are also in action on Sunday, when they travel to face Toulouse looking for a first win in three Ligue 1 outings, while Lille will be looking to bounce back from an unexpected 2-1 home reverse against Reims when they go to Saint-Etienne on Friday.

The match at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard is crucial for both clubs, with Saint-Etienne knowing a win will allow them to close to within three points of the podium and a Champions League qualifying berth.

Les Verts are unbeaten in four league games but were sensationally dumped out of the French Cup in midweek, losing on penalties to fourth-tier Cannes.

"I was really down that night after being knocked out. But now the most important thing is the game against Lille," said Saint-Etienne coach Christophe Galtier, who welcomes back goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier after a ban as well as defender Kurt Zouma, who has missed the last ten games suspended after a red card for breaking the leg of a Sochaux player in November.

"We need to roll our sleeves up and get back to work. Now we will only have one game per week so we will have time to work well and fine-tune our plans."

Elsewhere, Marseille entertain an improving Valenciennes, who have won their last two league games, while Reims host Lyon in an intriguing encounter at the Stade Auguste-Delaune.

OL continued their good recent form by beating Marseille 2-1 in the League Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday but they are four points adrift of Reims in the league table and the club from Champagne country are in great shape just now under Hubert Fournier, the former Lyon defender.

At the foot of the table, Ajaccio and Sochaux have been cut adrift and must turn things around quickly or face the prospect of Ligue 2 football next season.

The Corsican club are nine points from safety as they travel to Nice while Herve Renard's Sochaux side are seven points below the relegation zone and in desperate need of maximum points at home to fourth-from-bottom Montpellier.

Elsewhere, Bastia host Bordeaux, Lorient host Breton rivals Guingamp and Rennes meet Evian.

Fixtures (all times 1900 GMT unless noted):


Saint-Etienne v Lille (1930)


Marseille v Valenciennes (1600), Bastia v Bordeaux, Lorient v Guingamp, Nice v Ajaccio, Rennes v Evian, Sochaux v Montpellier


Reims v Lyon (1300, Toulouse v Monaco (1600), Paris Saint-Germain v Nantes (2000)

Source: AFP

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