Marseille and Lyon looking to bounce back and stop PSG

AP, PARIS

Sat, Feb 09, 2013 - Page 18

Olympique de Marseille and Olympique Lyonnais need to bounce back from last weekend’s defeats and find their best form again if either of them is to stop Paris Saint-Germain from waltzing away with the Ligue 1 title.

Marseille have won once in their past four league games, picking up a meager four points from 12 and conceding sloppy late goals from set-pieces, to drop six points behind PSG in third place.

“The team spirit has changed since the start of the season. Now we’re capable of losing to anyone,” Marseille centerback Souleymane Diawara said. “There’s no one in our team who is a match-winner. We have to work together to get results, otherwise we won’t succeed ... At the start of the season, everyone was working hard for each other. That’s no longer the case.”

Lyon, who lost away to AC Ajaccio last weekend and drew 0-0 at home to struggling Evian Thonon Gaillard two weeks ago, are three points behind in second spot — having been five points ahead a few weeks ago.

PSG, meanwhile, have won their past three league games and have not conceded a league goal since a 2-1 defeat at OGC Nice two months ago, meaning that goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu is unbeaten for a mammoth 868 minutes.

Given that PSG were hosting struggling SC Bastia — who have the worst defense in the league — yesterday, the gap could widen if Lyon fail to beat LOSC Lille Metropole at home and Marseille do not win at Evian tomorrow.

“I’m disgusted with our [recent] results, but we’re still third and close to the top,” Diawara said. “I’m sure of what I’m saying — we can catch Lyon and Paris.”

However, to do that, Marseille need to rapidly improve in every sector of the game.

Handling errors by goalkeeper Steve Mandanda have cost Marseille dearly in the past two games, but the France No. 2 has not been helped by his defense, which has an alarming weakness when it comes to dealing with free-kicks and corners. The midfield has had little impact in recent weeks and striker Andre-Pierre Gignac has often found himself isolated in attack.

However, the good news for Lyon is that Lille, the French champions two seasons ago, are in a far worse predicament and have not won a league match this year.

Today, AS Saint-Etienne take on Montpellier Herault, AC Ajaccio face fourth-placed Girondins de Bordeaux, AS Nancy-Lorraine host Stade de Reims, fifth-placed OGC Nice take on Lorient, struggling ES Troyes AC are visited by Sochaux-Montbeliard and Valenciennes face Stade Brestois 29. Stade Rennais take on Toulouse in tomorrow’s other game.