PSG hopes to bounce back from 1st loss
PARIS (AP) — Defending champion Paris Saint-Germain will look to bounce back from its first defeat of the season when it visits Guingamp in the French league on Sunday. A 3-1 loss to Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday ended PSG’s 23-game unbeaten run in all competitions. PSG sits one point behind leader Marseille, which travels to Monaco.
Here are some things to know ahead of this weekend’s games:
A year ago, PSG led the French league and won its Champions League group. The narrative is different this season as PSG is second in the French league and finished second in Group F behind Barcelona.
“We created chances but our finishing was not clinical,” PSG coach Laurent Blanc said. “And I think we could have defended better on a couple of scoring chances for Barcelona.”
Blanc is facing more pressure since the Parisian club is no longer producing the entertaining style of football it displayed last season.
RIDING THE MOMENTUM
Monaco also advanced to the knockout phase of the Champions League and finished top of Group C by downing Zenit St. Petersburg 2-0 on Tuesday. Monaco hopes to carry that momentum into its French league campaign.
“That has boosted our confidence,” Monaco forward Anthony Martial said. “I hope we’ll play some nice football (against Marseille).”
Monaco is playing catch-up because of a mediocre start to the season. It sits in seventh place, 12 points behind Marseille. Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov will likely miss the match after picking up a muscle injury to his right side against Zenit.
Marseille has been holding the top spot since September. However, Ghana winger Andre Ayew refused to get carried away by the idea of reaching the winter break with the lead.
“Finishing first at the halfway stage does not mean that you are the French league champion,” Ayew said. “What matters is what will happen at the end of the season. We are not going to think about it now.”
Marseille has the most prolific attack in the league with 36 goals scored. It last won the league title in 2010.
Lyon has climbed to third place despite a squad hit by injuries. France international Alexandre Lacazette has kept his club afloat by scoring a league-leading 13 goals and making 4 assists.
“It’s true that there’s a certain dependence (on him),” Lyon coach Hubert Fournier said. “But it’s the same in a lot of clubs. Real Madrid depends on Cristiano Ronaldo. Alex is not Cristiano Ronaldo, but he’s a very important player for us.”
Lyon hosts struggling Caen on Friday.
THE CORSICAN CURSE
Not only has Bastia lost its last three matches to drop to last place, the club keeps making headlines for the wrong reasons as well. Club president Pierre-Marie Geronimi was handed preliminary charges on Wednesday for misuse of funds not directly related to the club’s finances.
“We know we’re in a tough spot,” Bastia coach Ghislain Printant said ahead of its game against Rennes on Saturday. “The lads are not giving up.”
Two weeks ago, Bastia striker Brandao was handed a one-month jail sentence for headbutting midfielder Thiago Motta after a 2-0 loss to PSG in August.
In early November, the Corsican club fired coach Claude Makelele following a string of poor results.