Carlo Ancelotti has urged Paris Saint-Germain to turn their attention to claiming the domestic double following their UEFA Champions League exit. The big-spending capital giants, who face Evian in the quarter-finals of the Coupe de France on 17 April, resume their push for Ligue 1 honours when they travel to relegation-threatened Troyes on Saturday evening.
A 1-1 draw in Barcelona last night resulted in the end of their European dream on away goals, but Ancelotti has seen enough to indicate his players are on the right path.
He said: "My players played a good match against Barcelona. We posed Barça - a fantastic team - a lot of problems.
"It's my first full season here and I'm very pleased with what my side has shown in the Champions League. They've shown a strong team spirit and a strong identity, especially against Barcelona.
"But it's not just my project, it's the work of an entire club that wants to grow. We were competitive, and naturally we should be even better next season. We played ten Champions League matches in this campaign and lost just once.
"Someone said that we didn't deserve to lose to Barcelona, but we can't afford to spend time on thoughts like that. We need to focus on doing all we can to win the two competitions we're still in."
Troyes are six points adrift of safety and manager Jean-Marc Furlan refuses to put any positive spin on their position. "It's extremely difficult for us to stay up, almost mission impossible," he said.
OM unity, relegation battle intensifies
PSG's only real challengers for the Ligue 1 title are second-place Marseille, but even they are seven points adrift with seven matches remaining. Marseille head to Lille on Sunday, and coach Elie Baup accepts his side are entering a critical phase.
"The team has solidarity for each other, the desire to make an effort for each other and the idea not to give anything away," he said. "It's the last five, six matches which will count."
Lille crushed Lorient 5-0 last weekend and their coach Rudi Garcia is determined to qualify for Europe next season.
"We need to build on what we showed against Lorient, and our match against Marseille is huge," he said. "We're back in fifth place in the table and closed up on third place. There are still seven games and 21 points to go for.
"We want to be involved in the sprint finish and qualify for Europe. If the season finished now then we would not be qualified for anything and the road is still long."
The relegation battle extends as high as 13th place, where Valenciennes, who host Saint-Etienne tomorrow night, are only six points above the bottom three. Brest and Reims meet in a important match between two struggling sides, while Nancy will seek to climb out of the drop zone when they face Ajaccio.
Garde calls for belief
Lyon's bid for Champions League football has been derailed by a run of three straight Ligue 1 defeats, and coach Remi Garde knows his players must arrest that slump sooner rather than later.
"We are currently in a very bad series and have seven games remaining," he told OL TV ahead of Sunday's home game against Toulouse. "The mood is different. A different strategy is required. We must all believe the same things. There is no [negative] atmosphere. The important thing is to win."
Toulouse will be without Senegal left-back Cheikh M'Bengue for the trip to the Stade de Gerland. The 24-year-old has been ruled out for two to three weeks after picking up a left adductor injury in training on Wednesday, meaning Serge Aurier should deputise.
Also on Sunday, European hopefuls Nice host struggling Sochaux.
Defending champions Montpellier will continue their bid to secure European football next season by winning at ninth-placed Bordeaux on Saturday, but will have to do so without John Utaka, Karim Ait-Fana, Jamel Saihi, Garry Bocaly and Joris Marveaux (all injured) and the suspended Cyril Jeunechamp.
In other games on Saturday, fourth-bottom Evian face Rennes and Lorient take on Bastia.