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PSG win at Lyon 'crucial', says Nene
Published : 24 Feb 2012 01:46:53
Carlo Ancelotti's Paris Saint Germain are at Lyon on Saturday in a Ligue 1 dress rehearsal for next month's French Cup quarter-final.
PSG head south to the Stade Gerland on the back of last weekend's pulsating 2-2 draw with surprise title challengers Montpellier, who host Bordeaux lying one point behind their Qatari-backed rivals.
Brazilian forward Nene, said: "The visit to Lyon is very important.
"It's crucial we go and get a win there. Lyon are a very strong side and it should be a great game between two teams who like to play the ball."
Defender Mamadou Sakho said the mood at the Parc des Princes was upbeat after the Montpellier stalemate which left the capital side unbeaten in 13 matches, all competitions combined.
The captain, among Laurent Blanc's squad for next week's France friendly in Germany, told his club's official website: "The Montpellier game was complicated.
"We were at home, it was important to put up a good performance, and even though we didn't manage to come away with the three points we were still leading (the table) by the end of the match.
"Everbody expects us to win each time, but it's not that easy.
"On Saturday we face a team of Champions League level, with several quality players, lots of internationals capable of turning a game...."
Sakho was at pains to point out that despite PSG's prominent position, there was still a long way to go before they could start talking about a title.
"The final sprint hasn't begun yet," he insisted.
"We're still in the long distance race with 13 matches to play. The championship can still evolve, teams can still climb up the table."
Ancelotti is expected to start Argentine playmaker Javier Pastore, identified as a key figure in PSG's push for the title, and who is match fit again after injury.
Lyon are missing several regular first team players, including Yoann Gourcuff, Dejan Lovren, the suspended Clement Grenier, and Ghana star John Mensah who returned from the Africa Cup of Nations with a thigh injury.
"Decisive" was how Lyon coach Remi Garde described the encounter.
"It's decisive as we are up against the leaders and it's a chance for us to draw a line under our poor performances against Caen and Bordeaux," he explained.
"I'm calling on my players' professional conscience and on their determination, their desire to win something together," added Garde, whose side are 12 points off the Ligue 1 summit.
Fourth-placed Saint Etienne, in contention for a Champions League spot next term after Wednesday's 4-2 victory over Lorient, are at Auxerre searching for their fourth consecutive win.
Defending champions Lille, six points off the top in third, are at Rennes on Sunday when Marseille, buoyed by their midweek stoppage time Champions League win over Inter Milan, make the 2000km round trip to the Brittany port of Brest.
Marseille, with a game in hand, are placed fifth, three points behind Saint Etienne, and will want to keep up the momentum of their last gasp win over Inter Milan in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie in midweek.
Bottom club Sochaux travel to Toulouse, while Nice, one off the foot of the table thanks to superior goal difference, host Caen.
Fixtures (1800GMT unless stated)
Ajaccio v Dijon, Auxerre v Saint Etienne, Evian v Nancy, Montpellier v Bordeaux, Nice v Caen, Valenciennes v Lorient, (21h00) Lyon v Paris Saint Germain (2000)
Brest v Marseille (1600), Toulouse v Sochaux, Rennes v Lille (2000)