PSG, Monaco turn focus back to Ligue 1

24 January 2014 01:32

Following a week of contrasting disappointment for Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain and second-placed Monaco, domestic action provides a welcome distraction as they resume their battle for the 2014 French title.

Laurent Blanc suffered his third defeat in eleven matches at the helm of PSG as they were shocked at home in the French Cup by a Montpellier side languishing fifth from bottom in Ligue 1.

While their hopes of winning an unprecedented haul of four trophies went up in smoke, Blanc remained philosophical heading into Saturday's trip to Guingamp.

"It was a typical Cup match and sadly it was us that went out which is disappointing," said the former France and Bordeaux coach.

"If we can take something positive out of it, it's the fact that we have one competition less to worry about and our calendar will be less packed.

"Certain players needed game time and it showed (against Montpellier), but the Cup serves for that purpose too," he added.

Monaco come into their Sunday evening tie at home to Marseille five points behind the capital club, but despite qualifying for the last 16 of the French Cup on Wednesday, they were counting the cost of a potentially season-ending knee ligament injury to star striker Radamel Falcao.

The Colombian was stretched off just before half-time of the 3-0 win over fifth division Chasselay leaving his Italian coach Claudio Ranieri blaming the officials.

"If Falcao has something serious, it is the referee's fault," said Ranieri.

Teammate Jeremy Toulalan also expressed his concern about the man who has found the back of the net nine times in league action this season.

"It doesn't look very, very good," expressed the playmaker as Falcao's World Cup hopes looked slim.

Lyon are now the only French club maintaining a bid for four trophies after they sailed through their French Cup tie at amateur side Yzeure.

Yoann Gourcuff's spectacular return to form has been the foundation for Remi Garde's men and they are also into the knockout phase of the Europa League as well as the League Cup semi-finals.

While their chances of overhauling PSG remain far-fetched as they face a 19-point deficit, a win at home to Evian on Saturday could bring them within six points of the final Champions League spot.

Third-placed Lille have staggered in recent weeks and hold just a three-point advantage on Saint-Etienne as they host Rennes in the weekend curtain raiser on Friday.

Saint-Etienne meanwhile will look to compound Bordeaux's dismal exit in the French Cup after the holders were sensationally dumped out of the competition by amateur club L'Ile-Rousse in Corsica.

The weekend's key relegation ties feature last-placed Ajaccio at home to Herve Renard's second-from-bottom Sochaux while Valenciennes are four points from safety as they host mid-table Lorient.

Toulouse await Bastia, Nice are on the road at Montpellier and Nantes entertain Reims at La Beaujoire stadium.

Fixtures (all kick-offs 1900 GMT unless noted):


Lille v Rennes (1930)


Guingamp v Paris Saint-Germain (1600), Ajaccio v Sochaux, Valenciennes v Lorient, Toulouse v Bastia, Montpellier v Nice, Nantes v Reims


Lyon v Evian (1300), Bordeaux v Saint-Etienne, Monaco v Marseille

Source: AFP