Civelli urges Marseille title caution
Marseille defender Renato Civelli has urged his team-mates not to get ahead of themselves as the French first division leaders prepare for their key trip to local rivals Nice on Wednesday.
With four matches of the season remaining, Marseille lead second-placed Bordeaux on goal difference by a single goal, and host reigning champions Lyon on Sunday in a game that could have a decisive bearing on the outcome of the title race. Civelli, though, says his side cannot afford to do anything but take each game as it comes.
"I think that Bordeaux will drop points," the 25-year-old Argentine said. "But as we can't be sure of it, we have to win all four matches. We have to give 100 per cent and not think about Lyon. If we win against Lyon and lose against Nice... The most important thing is therefore Nice."
Eleven days will have elapsed since Marseille's last match - a 2-2 draw at home to Toulouse - by the time they take to the field at Stade Municipal du Ray, while Wednesday's match will be the first since Didier Deschamps was named as the successor to outgoing coach Eric Gerets.
Marseille's manager has therefore had plenty of time to think about the challenge posed by Nice and he's expecting no favours from their Mediterranean neighbours, who are currently eighth in the Ligue 1 table. "It's fantastic to have a derby now," Gerets said. "It's always great, but it will be even tougher than usual as they will obviously want to take points off us and we absolutely have to win."
A win for Marseille would crank up the pressure on Bordeaux, who travel to Valenciennes later on Wednesday evening. Bordeaux, who last won the title in 1999, have been bolstered by the returns from injury of Brazilian midfielder Jussie and Argentine striker Fernando Cavenaghi, while defender Marc Planus is back from suspension.
Coach Laurent Blanc, though, has lost midfielder Abdou Traore and first-choice goalkeeper Ulrich Rame to leg muscle injuries, and midfielder Fernando expects a stern examination at improving Valenciennes.
"They're a team that is very difficult to play against at (Stade) Nungesser," the Brazilian said. "We're going there firstly not to concede any goals and then to take our chances, even if we only have one."
Third-placed Lyon take on Nantes on Tuesday, boosted by the availability of French international forward Sidney Govou, who returned to action following a four-month injury lay-off in a 1-0 friendly win over Grenoble on Friday. "At the moment, I'm really happy," said Govou. "I'll continue to work to see if I can play in the last matches. I must not rush things just in order to play a whole game."
Paris Saint-Germain, one point behind Lyon in the battle for the last UEFA Champions League qualifying berth, travel to Le Mans on Wednesday, while second-bottom St Etienne will hope to kick-start their bid to avoid relegation at bottom side Le Havre.