Sat, Apr 12, 2014 - Page 18 News List

PSG hoping to seal title after European disaster

AFP, PARIS

While the thumping hangover following Paris Saint-Germain’s UEFA Champions League exit in midweek still lingers, the capital club might be able to sooth the pain by securing the Ligue 1 title tomorrow.

Laurent Blanc’s expensively assembled squad were within minutes of the semi-final spot they so badly craved at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge before a late Demba Ba strike took the Londoners through on away goals and plunged PSG into depression.

They must now turn their attentions to putting the finishing touches on an almost perfect domestic campaign and they stand on the brink of a fourth Ligue 1 title when they travel to Olympique Lyonnais tomorrow night.

Nearest challengers AS Monaco sit 13 points adrift in second place with six games to go and if they lose away to Stade Rennais today, the path will be clear for PSG to win a second straight championship by beating Lyon at the Stade de Gerland, the same venue where they wrapped up the title last season.

The match against Remi Garde’s fifth-placed Lyon side will also serve as a rehearsal for the Coupe de la Ligue final between the two teams at the Stade de France the following Saturday.

Blanc’s reported contract extension past 2015 appeared a formality before the derailment in London, but with the club’s Qatari owners craving Champions League success, reports this week suggest that he could yet be axed.

The coach and his squad have been hit badly by the end of their European adventure and training was canceled the day after the match as the club got to grips with their defeat.

Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani was targeted as one of the players to underperform on the biggest stage and much has been said of their lack of experience needed to win Europe’s biggest competition.

“Difficult to accept a result like that,” Cavani tweeted after the match. “We now have to concentrate on our other objectives.”

They will be facing a Lyon side who were also eliminated from Europe this week, losing 2-1 away to Juventus in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie to bow out 3-1 on aggregate.

Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri will be keen to maintain their six-point lead over third-placed LOSC Lille Metropole, while AS Saint-Etienne in fourth must win at Stade de Reims to keep their slim hopes of qualifying for next season’s Champions League alive.

Les Verts faltered badly last weekend when they were held to a 1-1 home draw by OGC Nice and a five-point deficit to Lille needs to be reduced quickly if they hope to return to Europe’s premier competition for the first time since 1981-1982.

Lille face relegation-threatened Valenciennes in a local derby in today’s early match.

Meanwhile, Olympique de Marseille were due to make the short trip to Montpellier Herault yesterday after coach Jose Anigo admitted that he may have made a mistake in taking the job back in December last year after coming in for a torrent of abuse last weekend during the 3-1 home win against AC Ajaccio.

Anigo, who will return to his primary role of sporting director in the summer, has endured a difficult time since the murder of his son Adrien back in September last year.

“There has been a form of disrespect and forgetfulness from the fans, so yes, you can ask the question,” he replied when asked whether he regretted taking the job when Elie Baup was sacked. “Did I make the right decision to offer my services to the club, because I got nothing in return and I didn’t make more money? I possibly got it wrong, but I am curious to see how it’s going to finish for me.”

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