Soccer

Lyon looks for step closer to Champions League

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PARIS (AP)

Lyon gets the chance to move to within 90 minutes of Champions League football next season when it faces Nice on Saturday.

With champion Paris Saint-Germain and runner-up Marseille having already secured the top two spots, third-place Lyon can tighten its grip on France's final Champions League place with one more round to play on May 26.

PSG won its first league title since 1994 by edging Lyon 1-0 last Sunday and will host relegated Brest on Saturday.

However, all the talk is already about PSG's next season - when it will be without David Beckham, following the announcement of his retirement, and potentially also coach Carlo Ancelotti, who has been linked with a move to Real Madrid despite still having a year left on his contract.

However, the Italian coach denied meeting anybody from the Spanish club and indicated he wanted to stay in Paris.

''I want to continue if it's possible,'' Ancelotti was quoted as telling L'Equipe. ''It's 50-50 today. I'm well integrated here and I'm not the kind of person who enjoys change. I was disappointed when I left Chelsea. There'll be of course some sadness if I leave Paris.''

Ancelotti said he wanted to clear the air with the management before making a decision.

''I want to have an explanation about some things that happened this season. I had rough moments after the losses to Rennes and Nice,'' he said. ''A lot of things happened this season. Some good things but also some not so good.''

Marseille secured second place by defeating Toulouse 2-1 last weekend. On Saturday, it will visit sixth-place Saint-Etienne, which earned a Europa League spot by winning the French League Cup final in April.

The top two French teams qualify directly for the group stage of the Champions League whereas the third-place team enters in the preliminary round of the lucrative European competition. The team finishing fourth qualifies for the Europa League.

Lyon leads Lille and Nice by three points and Saint-Etienne by four.

''When we look at the standings, the match against Nice is crucial because we can widen the gap with them,'' Lyon fullback Gueida Fofana said. ''We will focus on ourselves as we have our fate in our hands. Let's not make calculations because that's the best way to perform poorly.''

The last time Nice finished in the top five was in 1976 when it was a runner-up.

Lille won the league title in 2011 and wound up third last year. It will visit defending champion Montpellier this weekend.

''We must only think about winning Saturday to have the best chances of getting a European spot,'' Lille coach Rudi Garcia said. ''We are in fourth place so far. It's up to us to retain that spot. But if we can finish higher in the standings, we will grab the opportunity.''

Also on Saturday, it's: Evian vs. Valenciennes; Nancy vs. Bastia; Reims vs. Lorient; Rennes vs. Ajaccio; Sochaux vs. Toulouse; and Troyes vs. Bordeaux.

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