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Pressure increasing on faltering Paris Saint-Germain
After several poor performances in recent weeks, the pressure is on Ligue 1 title favourites Paris Saint-Germain to get back to winning ways again when they travel to Nancy on Saturday.
PSG have gone three matches without a win between league and cup, and last weekend's draw with Bordeaux saw them surrender top spot in the table on goal difference to Montpellier, who refuse to give up the chase for a debut title despite having just a fraction of the capital side's financial power.
The move to bring in Carlo Ancelotti as coach during the winter break will only be justified if PSG end the season on top of the table, and midfielder Mohamed Sissoko knows that a significant improvement is required if they are not to slip up again this weekend on Nancy's artificial surface.
"We know that it will be very difficult. We are currently going through a spell where we are not playing at our best but everyone is aware of the situation," said the former Valencia, Liverpool and Juventus player.
"We know what needs to be done. Our objective is to hold on to top spot.
"We need to prove that we have not turned into a bad side overnight. We are going through a bad patch and we need to turn things around quickly."
Sissoko - who was born and brought up in France but is experiencing his first-ever season playing at the top level - also dismissed claims that the squad has struggled to get used to the demands made of them by the new coach.
"Ancelotti brought a lot of ideas with him when he arrived, but it is up to us to adapt," he said.
"We are no longer defending and attacking as a team. But if we all pull together in the same direction we will win the title."
Nancy have gone four games unbeaten to pull away from the relegation zone and also won 1-0 at the Parc des Princes back in November.
Indeed, PSG have not won any of their last five meetings with the men from Lorraine, but if they can win at the Stade Marcel-Picot it would set them up nicely for next weekend's meeting with bitter rivals Marseille.
A win would also see Paris go three points clear again at the top with Montpellier not in action following the controversial decision by the authorities to postpone their trip to Marseille in order to give Didier Deschamps' side optimum time to prepare for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich.
Elsewhere, Lille refuse to give up the defence of their title entirely and lie seven points off the pace in third place.
However, their focus is on making sure they seal Champions League qualification for next season, when they will move into a new 50,000-seat stadium.
A win at home to Toulouse, who lie three points behind them in fourth, could go a long way towards ensuring that they achieve that target.
Lille have won their last two matches, scoring seven goals without reply, but Toulouse will not make life easy by any means.
The south-western club are renowned for being one of the hardest teams to play against in Ligue 1 and have conceded just one goal in a six-match unbeaten run that has propelled them into European contention.
There is new-found confidence at Lyon, too, with Remi Garde's side having won four games in a row in all competitions since being knocked out of the Champions League by Cypriot outsiders APOEL.
OL lie in fifth place as they prepare to travel to Brittany to face fellow French Cup semi-finalists Rennes, who have fallen off the pace recently.
Sixth-placed Saint-Etienne entertain Nice, while Jean-Guy Wallemme is looking for a win on his home debut as coach of bottom side Auxerre against Valenciennes.
In other games, Bordeaux host Dijon, Lorient take on Evian, Brest go to Sochaux and Caen entertain Ajaccio.
Saturday (all 1700 GMT unless stated)
Auxerre v Valenciennes, Bordeaux v Dijon, Lorient v Evian, Saint-Etienne v Nice, Sochaux v Brest, Nancy v Paris Saint-Germain (1900 GMT)
Sunday (1500 GMT unless stated)
Caen v Ajaccio, Lille v Toulouse, Rennes v Lyon (1900 GMT)
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