PSG looks for better form despite unbeaten run
PARIS (AP) — Two-time defending champion Paris Saint-Germain will look to Zlatan Ibrahimovic to make an impact again in Wednesday’s trip to play Lille. The imposing Sweden striker has scored in his past two games as he regains his form following a heel injury which kept him out of action for nearly two months.
League leader Marseille, which is one point ahead of PSG, needs top scorer Andre-Pierre Gignac to find his touch again in Tuesday’s match at Lorient. Gignac has scored 11 league goals this season, but only one in his past seven games for club and country.
Here are some things to know about this week’s French league games:
Although Paris Saint-Germain is unbeaten in 21 matches this season, frustration is increasing that Laurent Blanc’s star-studded team fails to produce the spectacular football craved for by fans.
Saturday’s listless 1-0 win at home to mid-table Nice was another dour performance with a meager two shots on target from a PSG side featuring Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani in attack. Fans expect more in the next few games.
First up is a trip to Lille on Wednesday, followed by a home game against Nantes, before PSG travels to Barcelona for a table-topping Champions League group game four days later.
“We need this Barcelona game to gauge our true level,” PSG midfielder Javier Pastore told beIN sport television on Sunday. “To see if we’re really at the top level or not...”
Marseille will pay close attention to former striker Jordan Ayew when it travels to take on Lorient on Tuesday.
Ayew has scored three goals and set up four in 12 games since joining from Marseille.
The 23-year-old Ghana forward has been directly involved in five of Lorient’s last six goals, scoring one and creating two in Saturday’s 3-2 win at Toulouse.
Despite an encouraging start to his Lorient career, he was jeered by Lorient’s fans during a 1-0 home win against Lens a previous earlier.
“Look at my stats and then we’ll talk,” Ayew was quoted saying Monday in sports daily L’Equipe. “People can say whatever they like, but I’ve been involved in all of Lorient’s goals for a while now. So there...”
Ayew scored 14 league goals in 111 league games for Marseille where he often played as a winger.
Denmark midfielder Daniel Wass is again leading Evian’s bid to avoid relegation.
The 25-year-old Wass scored with a free kick from nearly 30 meters out in Sunday’s 2-0 home win against Guingamp, taking his league tally to six goals in 13 league games.
Last season, Evian finished four points above the relegation zone, with Wass contributing nine league goals.
This term, his scoring return is fractionally less impressive than that of PSG striker Edinson Cavani, who cost a club record €64 million ($80 million ).
In total, Wass has played only 29 minutes longer than Cavani.
″(Next season) he’ll be free to display his talents elsewhere,” said Evian coach Pascal Dupraz. “I invite the big clubs to take a look at him.”
Lyon’s nine-game unbeaten run ended with a 3-0 loss at Saint-Etienne Sunday and coach Hubert Fournier has challenged his players to respond against Reims on Thursday.
Third-place Lyon was inferior in every department as Saint-Etienne beat its fierce local rival at home for the first time in 20 years.
“I’m thinking about our fans and we’re sad to have played so badly,” Fournier said. “It was a collective failure for which myself and the technical staff accept our share of the blame.”
Fournier thinks the players may have become complacent.
“We need to show some character and a good dose of humility,” he said. “We’ll see on Thursday.”
Lille is 10 games without a win and has won only once in 14 — hardly encouraging before facing defending champion Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday.
The goals have almost completely dried up for coach Rene Girard’s hard-working, yet unspectacular side, with only six scored in the past 14 matches.
Salomon Kalou has not been properly replaced since leaving to join Hertha Berlin in the offseason.
Divock Origi, who is on loan from Liverpool, has managed three league goals so far, while strike partner Nolan Roux has just one.
Kalou scored 30 league goals in 67 games in two seasons with Lille.