5 things to know about the French League
Defending champion Paris Saint-Germain visits Lorient on Friday looking to preserve its eight-point lead over Monaco.
With the title seemingly set to stay in Paris, Monaco will be more concerned about retaining its advantage over third-placed Lille which it plays against at home on Sunday.
Here are five things to know about this weekend’s games:
CAN ANYONE STOP ZLATAN?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic cannot stop scoring and the Paris Saint-Germain striker broke a long-standing record last weekend when he fired in both goals in a 2-0 win at Saint-Etienne.
The goals took his tally to 40 in all competitions for the season so far, bettering Carlos Bianchi’s club record of 39, set in 1977-78.
”This record is important for you, but for me I’m just doing my job,” Ibrahimovic said. ”There are still nine matches left so we’ll see what will happen.
”It was important to win, the goals are just a bonus.”
PSG, which is also through to the Champions League quarterfinals, remained eight points above Monaco. On Friday it visits mid-table Lorient which has won just one of its past eight league matches.
GOURCUFF ON WAY OUT?
Lorient heads into Friday’s match against Paris Saint-Germain under a cloud of turmoil and knowing that it could lose long-standing coach Christian Gourcuff.
Apart from a two-year break at the beginning of the millennium, Gourcuff has been in charge of Lorient since 1991.
However, tensions have been growing stronger between him and club president Loic Fery since star player Mario Lemina was sold to Marseille on the last day of the summer transfer window.
Fery has given Gourcuff two weeks to sign a new two-year contract.
”I have decided not to decide,” Gourcuff said. ”I’ve told my lawyer what I want and he will talk to the club management. There is no mutual confidence, that’s become quite clear lately.
”There’s a split between what I feel and that which I’ve got from the club and there has been a split in my status in the club in relation to the trust that I should have. Everything has become accentuated in the past few months.”
MONACO HAPPY TO BE FAVORED
Monaco will take a win any way it can in its crunch match against third-placed Lille as it looks to keep up the pressure on Ligue 1 leader Paris Saint-Germain.
Monaco won 3-2 at Lyon last weekend but TV replays showed that two of the three goals should have been ruled out for offside.
”The referee made his decisions, all the better for Monaco,” midfielder Mounir Obbadi said. ”I hope that from now until the end of the season, this won’t change.
”I don’t know if second spot is more or less secured but we’ve made a good start. We have a very important match against Lille. If we win, we’ll have made an even better start. And if we can continue to annoy PSG a bit, we will do.”
Lille is nine points behind Monaco.
LILLE BACK ON TRACK
Lille will be hoping it has turned its miserable start to the year around when it visits Monaco on Sunday.
After a fantastic start to the season, Lille struggled at the turn of the year and won just one match before March.
”I don’t know if the awful period we went through in January and February is definitely fixed but we are all focused on the same aim: reaching the highest possible position in the table,” goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama said.
”The fact that Monaco’s second shows it’s a talented team. It has a good mix of young talents and experience players. It will be a good match. I’m excited and impatient to be able to face Monaco.”
Lille is only five points above fourth-place Saint-Etienne, which hosts Sochaux on Sunday.
DESPERATE TIMES FOR RENNES
Matters are going from bad to worse for Rennes.
The club has won just one of its past six matches and has lost its past three to slip closer to the relegation zone.
Moreover, there have been reports of a training-ground altercation between coach Philippe Montanier and midfielder Jean II Makoun.
On Saturday Rennes faces a tricky trip to Marseille, which will also be keen to get back to winning ways after one victory in its past five league matches.