A revitalized Olympique de Marseille travel to Caen today looking to continue their climb up the Ligue 1 table and prove that their convincing Clasico win against Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) was no one-off.
The fixture in Normandy has been brought forward to give Marseille extra time to prepare for their vital Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund in Germany, where Didier Deschamps’ men may need to win to be sure of advancing to the last 16 for the second season running.
Progressing in Europe this season may be vital, but making sure they return to the Champions League in 2012-2013 is even more important, so defender Souleymane Diawara knows that Marseille can ill afford to take Caen — who are 10th, two points behind Marseille — lightly.
The Clasico success came on the back of damaging defeats to Montpellier and Olympiakos, and Diawara said that such a convincing win against the title favorites has done wonders for the mood in the camp.
With Loic Remy ruled out owing to an ankle injury, Andre-Pierre Gignac could make a reappearance against Caen a week after being banished to the reserves in the wake of an altercation with Deschamps.
Elsewhere, surprise leaders Montpellier will be fancied to keep their remarkable run of form going when they entertain Lorient tomorrow.
Inspired by the goals of Olivier Giroud, who netted a brilliant hat-trick in last week’s win at Sochaux, Rene Girard’s exciting young side are unbeaten in seven league games and come into the weekend three points clear of PSG at the summit.
Lorient’s only away league win this season came at the Parc des Princes on the opening day and the Bretons’ hopes of springing a surprise have been seriously hit by injuries in recent weeks.
PSG are a club in crisis in the wake of that defeat by Marseille. The capital outfit put in their worst performance since coach Antoine Kombouare took over in the summer of 2009 and have now gone three games without a win.
The pressure was already on Kombouare before the Clasico and it seems only a matter of time now before he is ejected from his seat in the Parc des Princes dugout.
On Sunday, they host an Auxerre side — coached by Laurent Fournier, a colleague of Kombouare’s in Paris in the pair’s playing days — who have lost five of their last six league games.
Javier Pastore and Jeremy Menez were both rested for yesterday’s Europa League trip to Salzburg, Austria, but will return here.
Like Marseille, Lille and Lyon have decisive Champions League matches to come next midweek.
The defending champions must beat Trabzonspor on Wednesday to progress to the last 16 for the first time in five years, but before that they will look to continue a 13-match unbeaten run when they go to bottom side Ajaccio.
Lyon, who are on the brink of being eliminated from the Champions League, host Toulouse on Sunday in a meeting between two sides who sit level on points in fifth and sixth place respectively.
Fourth-placed Rennes, who have won more games on the road than anyone else, travel to struggling Nice.