PSG looks to take a step closer to 3rd straight French title
PARIS (AP) — With three games to go, only three points separate Paris Saint-Germain and Lyon at the top of the French league standings.
PSG can edge closer to a third straight title if it beats Guingamp on Friday, while Lyon plays at Caen the following day.
Lyon’s title bid has been sidetracked in recent days. Club president Jean-Michel Aulas has been in the headlines because he is unhappy with the French league for reducing PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s ban for insulting match officials from four games to three, and has even demanded to see the paperwork that led to the decision.
Although Ibrahimovic returned last week against Nantes, teammate Edinson Cavani scored his third goal in the past three games.
Here are some things to know about this weekend’s games:
Lyon got a timely reminder of what it has been missing in midfield this season when Clement Grenier scored a superb free kick in last weekend’s 2-0 win over Evian.
That was Grenier’s first league start of the season after the France midfielder finally shook off a long-standing groin problem that he aggravated during a Europa League game on Aug. 21.
Grenier has earned a reputation as a free kick specialist in recent seasons, and his return adds some firepower to a Lyon attack heavily reliant on striker Alexandre Lacazette and forward Nabil Fekir — who have 39 league goals between them.
With Lyon trying to stay ahead of PSG on goal difference, Grenier’s ability to shoot from distance could prove vital in the next three games, starting with Saturday’s trip to Caen.
Marseille will look to leading scorer Andre-Pierre Gignac to keep alive its fading Champions League hopes.
Marseille’s chances of finishing in third place will end if the team loses at Monaco on Sunday, but victory will move it within two points of third-place Monaco.
Gignac’s two goals in last weekend’s 2-0 win at Metz took him to 20 for the season and he now has 101 career league goals in the French league.
The 29-year-old Gignac is out of contract at the end of the season and widely expected to be one of several players to leave the club.
Helping Marseille to finish third would be the perfect parting gift.
Monaco’s resurgence in the second half of the season has surprised many observers, considering how the team sold its best players at the start of the campaign.
Colombia striker Radamel Falcao joined Manchester United on a season loan and forward James Rodriguez made a big-money move to Real Madrid, depriving newly-appointed coach Leonardo Jardim of its two stars.
But in their absence, two players have excelled: teenage striker Anthony Martial and 20-year-old attacking midfielder Bernardo Silva.
Silva, who joined in the offseason from Benfica, has scored five goals in his past four games. The 19-year-old Martial — a cut-price signing from Lyon last season — has netted eight times in his last nine games to relegate veteran forward Dimitar Berbatov to the bench.
Big-spending Paris Saint-Germain is expected to be busy in the transfer market as it looks to challenge for the Champions League.
PSG has been linked to a move for Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba but financial fair play rules limit PSG’s budget to 60 million euros ($68 million) and means that the team would likely have to sell a player raise enough money to sign him.
Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette, the French league’s top scorer with 27 goals, is also a reported target for PSG — as is his teammate Nabil Fekir.
Fekir has been one of the French league’s best players this season and PSG coach Laurent Blanc is a thought to be a big fan.
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas knows he could cash in by selling one of his best assets — just like he did in 2009 when he sold forward Karim Benzema to Real Madrid.