With a showdown between Paris Saint-Germain and their great rivals Olympique de Marseille looming ever larger on the horizon, PSG host Sochaux-Montbeliard this weekend looking to stay in touch with the Ligue 1 leaders.
This season’s first installment of French soccer’s most explosive fixture is set for the Stade Velodrome on Oct. 7 and Marseille will be hoping to go into the game with their perfect start to the campaign intact by winning at Valenciennes tomorrow.
At the moment, PSG lie in third place, six points adrift of table-topping Marseille, and Carlo Ancelotti’s men are targeting a fifth straight win in all competitions against a Sochaux side who have won their last two league outings after a slow start.
“The game at the Velodrome will be huge for us, the atmosphere and the level of play will undoubtedly be intense, but we are obviously not forgetting about Sochaux. We want to keep our good recent run going,” PSG’s’ Brazilian fullback Maxwell said earlier this week.
PSG’s recent form, and particularly that of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who has seven goals in five Ligue 1 appearances, has left many with the impression that they could go through the entire campaign without losing.
“We don’t pay any attention to these comments,” Maxwell said. “An invincible team simply doesn’t exist, not in France nor in any other country.”
PSG, who also have a UEFA Champions League trip to Portugal to face Porto to come on Wednesday, will be without the injured Thiago Motta and the suspended Clement Chantome, while Ezequiel Lavezzi is likely to miss out because of a thigh injury.
Marseille can move one step closer to equaling a 76-year-old record by winning at Valenciennes.
With six victories in six league matches, Marseille have Olympique Lillois’ French league record of eights wins from their first eight matches — set in the 1936-1937 season — in their sights.
Elsewhere, second-placed Olympique Lyonnais can continue their unbeaten start when they entertain Girondins de Bordeaux.
Bordeaux, who lie sixth, are also still to lose a game, although the concession of a stoppage-time equalizer in last week’s 2-2 draw at home to AC Ajaccio left a bitter taste in their mouths.
Another of France’s European representatives, LOSC Lille Metropole, were set to face Stade Rennais yesterday in a meeting of two clubs struggling for form.
While Rennes are in the relegation zone, 2010-2011 champions Lille are also languishing in the bottom half, having not won in the league since the opening day of the campaign.
“In terms of points, we have not yet been cast adrift by the sides above us, but we are a little bit behind,” Lille striker Nolan Roux said. “It would be great to put a winning run together, that’s what we are lacking.”
Lille face Valencia in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, while Rennes’ focus is entirely on domestic matters and they were boosted by a 3-2 League Cup win against AS Nancy-Lorraine on Tuesday.
Nancy have won just once and gone almost seven hours without a goal in the league, but their weekend opponents, defending champions Montpellier Herault, are scarcely in better shape.
Rene Girard’s side have won just once so far and want a boost before facing Schalke 04 in the UEFA Champions League, but memories are still fresh of a 1-0 defeat on Nancy’s artificial surface last season.