PARIS (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain gets another chance to clinch the French league title on Wednesday. The Parisian club has an eight-point lead over Monaco with just three rounds left. Monaco plays two hours before PSG and needs a victory over struggling Guingamp to keep the title race alive until the match between PSG and Rennes kicks off.
Here are five things to know about this weekend’s games:
It became pretty obvious that PSG would keep its crown after building a 13-point lead over Monaco with six rounds left. Yet, PSG failed to seal the title last weekend by drawing 1-1 with relegation-threatened Sochaux.
“There was more desire in the team that wanted to be safe than in the team that wanted to win the title,” PSG midfielder Yohan Cabaye said.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic could return from a hamstring injury that has sidelined him since April 2. The Sweden striker is the top scorer in the league with 25 goals.
A victory over Rennes would give PSG the record for most points in a season. PSG is one point shy of Lyon’s record of 84 points set in 2005-06.
Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri was not upset when the news media suggested that Zinedine Zidane or Roberto Mancini could take his job this summer.
“I’m 62, I’ve been dealing with rumors for 30 years,” Ranieri told a news conference. “You know, the coach is like cuckolded husbands, he’s the last one to know about it.”
Ranieri has a year left on his contract. He helped Monaco gain promotion a year ago and secure a Champions League spot this season.
“If Monaco wants to keep winning, I must stay here, otherwise Monaco will no longer win,” Ranieri said with a grin.
Monaco has won its last four league games to keep PSG under pressure.
A CHANGE OF FORTUNE
A Europa League spot will be at stake when Marseille hosts Lyon on Sunday. The French club finishing fifth qualifies for the preliminary round of Europe’s second-tier competition.
Marseille seemed to have better chances when it was sixth at the halfway stage and Lyon sat in 11th place. But Lyon has made up ground since January to climb to fifth, five points clear of Marseille.
“It was a long shot,” Lyon midfielder Maxime Gonalons said. “We were trailing by a lot of points. At one stage, people even mentioned relegation. I can tell you that really hurt us.”
Rennes and Guingamp haven’t secured safety yet. Their league matches have been rescheduled to Wednesday as they will face each other in the French Cup final on Saturday.
Rennes will seek revenge after losing 2-1 to Guingamp in the 2009 French Cup final.
“We will try to use the failure from 2009 to prepare for this upcoming final,” Rennes defender Romain Danze said. “We must learn from our losses.”
The winner will hope to avoid the fate of Strasbourg in 2001 and Lorient in 2002, which were relegated the same year they lifted the French Cup.
FIGHTING FOR SURVIVAL
Sochaux is the club that has spent the most seasons (66) in the French league. But it could be relegated on Sunday when it hosts Nice.
“We know it will be very complicated, but we keep believing,” Sochaux striker Jordan Ayew said. “If we keep playing like we do and don’t secure safety, at least we will give a good image of Sochaux and we will exit the league with our heads held high.”
Sochaux trails 17th-place Evian by four points. It last played in the second division in 2001.