PSG grateful for chance to rebound quick from loss
PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain is eager not to make losing a new habit.
After going 36 matches without defeat in all competitions, PSG was surprisingly upended 2-0 by Evian on Wednesday. The French champion and leader has a chance to rebound when it hosts bottom side Sochaux this weekend. But another slipup could cost PSG the lead to Lille or Monaco. Lille travels to Bordeaux and Monaco hosts Ajaccio. Here are five things to know about this weekend’s matches in the French league.
AVERAGE PSG: Paris Saint-Germain is still top of the standings after the Evian loss but has seen its lead cut to just one point above Lille. Sochaux, coming on Saturday, hasn’t won its past eight matches. “We didn’t play well in the first half, but we created chances,” PSG coach Laurent Blanc said. “We could have done more to make things go our way, but we didn’t. We were too average in the second half. Evian deserved their victory. We have to recover well and get straight back to winning ways.”
INVINCIBLE ENYEAMA: Lille goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama is closing in on Gaetan Huard’s record of the longest time without conceding a goal after surpassing 1,000 minutes this week. Enyeama kept his 11th straight clean sheet in Tuesday’s 1-0 win against Marseille and has now not allowed a goal for 1,035 minutes — since a 2-0 defeat to Nice in September. Huard went 1,176 minutes without conceding for Bordeaux during the 1992-93 season.
“We’ve said so much about Enyeama,” Lille coach Rene Girard said. “He again made crucial saves for us. His strength is that he attributes his success to his teammates, to the squad. He knows he has really good players in front of him. He has his feet on the ground. We really weren’t thinking about Huard’s record at the beginning, we’ll see. It will difficult because everyone will want to score past him. We won’t put any pressure on him. But if he can continue like this until the end of the season, we’ll take it!” Lille visits Bordeaux on Sunday.
MOTIVATED BORDEAUX: Bordeaux players will have an extra incentive to score past Lille’s Vincent Enyeama. Coach Francis Gillot has told several of them he will take the scorer out for dinner as he tries to preserve the record of his friend Gaetan Huard. “I want to save my friend Gueguette’s record,” Gillot said. “I already told two, three players that I would pay for dinner if they score. I hope Gueguette will help me with the bill. He would be disappointed to lose this record, even if he told me that it’s not ‘his’ record, but Bordeaux’s record. But it was him who wore the gloves. ... So, seeing as it’s a Bordeaux record, we will try to do everything possible so that Lille don’t take it.”
MANAGERLESS MONTPELLIER: Rene Girard’s former team, Montpellier, is likely to be without a manager when it visits Toulouse on Sunday, looking to end a run of seven successive matches without a win. Coach Jean Fernandez resigned on Thursday, the day after a 2-0 defeat at home to Lorient left Montpellier in 17th place in the French league. Pascal Baills will act as interim manager. Rolland Courbis, who led Montpellier from 2007 to 2009 is among the favorites to take charge permanently. “I could be considered favorite but at the moment there’s nothing finalised,” Courbis said. “I know there are three or four other names around, I also have professional obligations ... I can’t say anthing at the moment, I’ll know more in the next 24 hours.” Girard steered Montpellier to the league title in 2012.
FALCAO RETURN: Star striker Radamel Falcao is likely to return from injury on Sunday when Monaco hosts unheralded Ajaccio. Falcao has missed the past two league matches after being injured in a 1-0 win at Nantes but Monaco has shown no sign of struggling in his absence. Falcao’s replacement, Anthony Martial, had a hand in the winner at Nantes and the 17-year-old scored in his first league start in the following match — a 2-0 win against Rennes. Monaco won 3-0 in a derby match at Nice on Tuesday to close the gap to leader PSG to two points. “I need Falcao. Me and Monaco,” Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri said. “I think he’ll play but I won’t take any risks. I’ll ask him how he feels during the week, I think he wants to play Sunday. But I’m happy with Martial, who had a good match (against Nice) and showed a lot of character and personality.”