5 things to know about the French league
Here are five things to know about this weekend’s matches in the French league:
PSG ON TRACK
Paris Saint-Germain is not taking anything for granted despite increasing its lead in the French league last weekend.
The defending champions beat rival Marseille 2-0 to extend its lead to eight points over second-place Monaco.
“Until it’s mathematically decided, you can’t say the title race is over,” PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi said. “There are still 11 matches and so a lot of points at stake.
“Eight points is a good advantage. But we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves. We have to remain focused until the end. There are still difficult matches, starting with a tricky trip to Bastia, where it is never easy to win.”
PSG is undefeated in its last 10 games in the league, while Bastia has won one of its past five.
Paris Saint-Germain striker Edinson Cavani made a scoring return from injury in last weekend’s 2-0 win over Marseille.
Cavani had been sidelined for more than a month after injuring his thigh against Bordeaux.
The Uruguay striker sealed the win over Marseille with a header in the 79th minute, 10 minutes after coming off the bench.
“It was fantastic,” Cavani said. “To come back onto the pitch for a classico, to win it and score ... it was a very good evening. I’m very happy to have scored. I know how important it was for the supporters.”
Cavani has been given permission to go to Uruguay to deal with personal problems but will return for training on Friday.
RANIERI GIVES UP
Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri maintains his side has no chance of winning the title despite its second position in the league table.
The team lost for the first time in 2014 at Saint-Etienne last weekend, and slipped eight points behind defending champion Paris Saint-Germain.
“We haven’t lost the title because we lost at Saint-Etienne,” Ranieri said. “We have to do 130 percent to get the title and that’s not possible.
“The title has been PSG’s since the beginning of the season and it hasn’t been lost now.”
Monaco hosts relegation-threatened Sochaux.
GIRARD DEMANDS IMPROVEMENT
Lille coach Rene Girard is expecting a better performance from his team when it hosts Montpellier on Sunday.
After two straight draws, Lille got back to winning ways with a hard-fought 3-2 victory at last-place Ajaccio last weekend.
“We had a really bad match,” Girard said. “We were never in it. We let ourselves be surprised by this Ajaccio team which posed us serious problems.
“We knew that Ajaccio is almost certainly already relegated but that the team wanted to end the season well. That’s the case. It’s really a miracle we managed to win.”
Lille is a point ahead of Saint-Etienne in the race for third place and the final Champions League spot.
MONTPELLIER CAN DO BETTER
Montpellier coach Rolland Courbis believes his team is capable of doing even better despite a vast improvement since he took charge in December.
Montpellier was 17th at the time and although Courbis lost his first match in charge, the team has gone from strength to strength.
It has not lost since, and drew 0-0 at Lyon to extend its unbeaten run to nine league matches.
“Individually and collectively against Lyon, we were at 50 percent of our potential and of what I hope we will do in the upcoming weeks,” Courbis said. “I know what we are capable of doing and I know that we are capable of doing better than what we showed at Lyon.”
Montpellier visits third-place Lille on Sunday.