5 things to know about the French league
PARIS (AP) — Here are five things to know about this weekend’s French league games:
Marseille became the first French club to finish the group stage of the Champions League with zero points after losing to Borussia Dortmund 2-1 on Wednesday.
“We still see the same flaws,” Marseille coach Jose Anigo said. “We concede goals too quickly and poorly finish our matches. We must fix the start and the end. It’s a lack of focus and experience. Things will certainly improve when we’ll fix that.”
A sporting director at the club, Anigo took over the coaching duties after Elie Baup’s dismissal last weekend.
Marseille trails third-place Lille by nine points and visits mid-table Lyon on Sunday.
Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc has done well since taking over in June, but the club has now lost two of its last three games in all competitions.
“I was disappointed by my team’s performance in the second half,” Blanc said following the 2-1 loss to Benfica in the Champions League on Tuesday. “We lacked a bit of ambition in our game.”
PSG is two points clear of Monaco at the top of the league and travels to Rennes on Saturday.
Monaco has won its last four games to climb to second place in the standings.
Young forwards Emmanuel Riviere and Anthony Martial have stepped up to compensate for Radamel Falcao’s absence. The Colombia striker has missed Monaco’s last three matches because of a thigh injury and won’t be able to play against Guingamp on Saturday.
“We will try to keep that second place until Christmas,” Monaco forward Valere Germain said. “The goal of the club is to finish in the top two and challenge PSG if possible, even though they’re one or two years ahead of us.”
The 1-0 loss at Bordeaux last weekend put an end to 11 straight clean sheets in the league for Lille and showed the limits of the 2011 champion’s brand of football.
“You can’t win when you don’t play,” Lille coach Rene Girard said. “I hope we will learn that lesson. The attitude of some players bothered me.”
Lille has the tightest defense in the league with only five goals conceded in 17 matches, but it is only the 12th most prolific attack with 18 goals scored.
Girard led Montpellier to its only league title in 2012. Lille hosts Bastia on Sunday.
Bordeaux can’t qualify for the knockout phase of the Europa League, and that’s OK.
“That was not easy to play matches both in the Europa League and the French league,” Bordeaux midfielder Nicolas Maurice-Belay said. “Since our elimination, a burden has been removed from our shoulders and you can see it on the field.”
Bordeaux has won three straight games in the French league since losing 1-0 to Eintracht Frankfurt last month in the Europa League. That winning run has helped Bordeaux get back in the race for a European spot by moving within two points of fourth-place Nantes.
Bordeaux faces Valenciennes on Sunday.