Paris Saint Germain manager Paul Le Guen has admitted that beating French first division arch-rivals Marseille this weekend would be more important than a run in Europe.
There were mixed fortunes for France's clubs in the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Cup this week, but Sunday's long-running grudge match between the capital and Mediteranean clubs is the biggest game in town. And so important is victory to Le Guen that he sent a young squad to Germany for Thursday's UEFA 3-1 defeat against Schalke 04, in order to preserve his top stars for the trip to Marseille.
"I just think that Ligue 1 is the most important competition. I've always thought that way," said Le Guen. With a tough game at Toulouse days later, squad preservation and rotation is as important as ever for the PSG boss, whose side sit ninth in the league, as he recently lost stalwart Ludovic Giuly to injury.
"Marseille will have one more day to rest before Sunday's game," said Le Guen. "And then we'll have one less day to prepare than Toulouse, who we play the following Wednesday."
Marseille may have had one day's more rest but a disappointing 2-0 Champions League slump at PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday will ensure they go into the match still nursing a few psychological scars. The only unbeaten club in France, Marseille sit second in the league - form that is in stark contrast to their European campaign.
"We are the only French club who have not yet won since the beginning of the Champions League," Marseille president Pape Diouf told sports daily L'Equipe. "I'm waiting for a reaction, a different show against PSG on Sunday. It's out of the question that we can again play as we have just done, without drive, without fight."
He added: "The result was completely just. Such a match leaves a bitter taste. I'll say it again, it's a very big disappointment and I hope the players will react."
Bordeaux face a tough away trip to eighth-placed Nice, bouyed by the win over Cluj in the Champions League, with coach Laurent Blanc admitting: "We are satisfied and can now continue to progress in all areas."
France's other Champions League participants, seven-time French league winners Lyon, travel to mid-table Auxerre, hoping to extend their lead in the top flight. Fred and Karim Benzema, who scored two goals apiece to help sink Steaua Bucharest on Tuesday, should both feature this Saturday.