Lille, Lyon face off, PSG visit Dijon
Lille and Lyon have had scant opportunity to lick their wounds after UEFA Champions League defeats as they prepare for a crunch Ligue 1 clash on Sunday. Reigning French champions Lille are in the upper reaches of the table with Lyon, as both attempt to challenge wealthy Paris St Germain for the title.
Former Lille forward Michel Bastos is an established member of the Lyon team, and returns to his old club this weekend looking to inflict a home defeat on Les Dogues. Lyon, third heading into the weekend, have a one-point advantage over Lille, but Bastos is predicting it will be a difficult challenge to return from northern France with any reward.
He said: "I simply hope that we play a match where we look for a result. Knowing the way Lille play in front of their home crowd, a point would be welcome. I have always said that (Lille) are a great team. And the team's start to the season has only confirmed that. For me, Lille figure among the favourites in the season after their title. And I know what I'm talking about, since I know most of the people in the squad, players as well as staff."
Lyon are unlikely to be aiming for a point, given they will not want PSG to add to their three-point cushion at the top of the table. Bastos, who was speaking to the Lille website, acknowledges it has been an encouraging start to the season for Lyon. "It's been very positive," he said. "We have managed to win by playing successful football, while at the same time being defensively solid.
"We find ourselves on the Ligue 1 'podium' after more than a quarter of the season, proof that Lyon have started well. Just like the rest of the team, I have a lot of confidence. I even think I've rediscovered the level of form I had in my final season with Lille and my first with Lyon. It was important to come back after a year in which I was handicapped by injuries."
PSG, who were tonight in Slovakia for a UEFA Europa League clash with Slovan Bratislava, face a Sunday assignment at home to Dijon. Saturday could see Montpellier join PSG on 23 points at the top of the table, with victory at Caen. Marseille, who have home advantage against Ajaccio on Saturday, will look to pick themselves up from the crushing disappointment of losing to a late Aaron Ramsey goal against Arsenal in the Champions League last night.
Rennes and Toulouse, fifth and sixth respectively in Ligue 1, have away trips to Auxerre and Lorient ahead of them. Nancy, still without a win, will look to put that right in their home match against Nice, while Bordeaux, who like Marseille are struggling towards the foot of the table, take on Brest. The weekend's remaining games see St Etienne play Valenciennes, while Evian head to Sochaux.