French clubs back to business

Lyon spared French blushes in the UEFA Champions League midweek, but it is back to domestic business with a bump on Saturday as the seven-time league winners travel to Le Havre.

Lyon salvaged a point against Fiorentina on Wednesday thanks to an 85th-minute goal from Karim Benzema, saving face after Bordeaux's 4-0 trouncing at Chelsea and Marseille's 2-1 defeat to Liverpool the day before. Benzema, the French league's highest goalscorer, also set up the first goal, slotting the decisive pass to Frederic Piquionne.

"One thing is for sure, after this match we can see that the team has an innate ability to fight back, to refuse defeat, and it has character," said Lyon coach Claude Puel on Thursday. "But it also reveals that we still have work to do in terms of going for 90 minutes and controlling games."

Marseille captain Lorik Cana said it was crucial to put the Liverpool defeat, engineered by an imperious Steven Gerrard, behind them for Sunday's big derby against Monaco. "The team is playing good football at the moment. And we're improving faster than ever - we're getting better with each passing day," Cana told the club's website.

"We need to keep it up and keep improving in the long term. We're frustrated with our result against Liverpool, but we have to pick ourselves up for Monaco this weekend."

Marseille sit second in the league two points behind Lyon, with a 1-1 draw against Bordeaux last weekend their only slip-up in five matches. "It's another home match, a derby and it's imperative that we win to clear the air after the last two games," Cana added. "This weekend's game should become a new benchmark for the rest of the season."

Man of the match
However, a player who could have a big say in the Mediterranean meeting is Monaco summer signing, South Korean 23-year-old Park Chu-Young. Park, a €2 million signing from FC Seoul, scored his side's opening goal last weekend against Lorient, and played a big part in Frederic Nimani's second to earn the man of the match award.

Elsewhere, Laurent Blanc's Bordeaux travel to promoted Grenoble on Saturday still smarting from being hit for four against Luiz Felipe Scolari's Chelsea, the scoresheet including two goals from Frenchmen Florent Malouda and Nicolas Anelka.

Blanc criticised his men for not stepping up to the next level against Chelsea, and they will have to toughen up before facing a gritty Grenoble, sitting fourth in the league.

Four teams competing in Thursday's UEFA Cup will play on Sunday, with Rennes traveling to Nancy and Saint-Etienne hosting Paris Saint Germain.