Bordeaux trying to run away with title
Defending champion Bordeaux has an eight-point lead at the top of
the French league, and it still has more to prove.
The team from southwest France will be looking to extend its
five-game winning streak in the league when it visits Toulouse on
“The squad still has some room to improve,” Bordeaux coach
Laurent Blanc said. “It hasn’t reached its peak yet.”
Bordeaux, which will be missing France midfielder Alou Diarra
through suspension, leads the league with 40 points from 18
matches. Second-place Marseille, which has a game in hand, trailed
by eight points and faces Auxerre on Wednesday.
“Bordeaux is setting a frantic pace,” Marseille coach Didier
Deschamps said. “If they maintain that pace, it will be complicated
to catch them.”
Since the 1994-95 season, when a victory was worth three
points for the first time, no team with a lead of at least eight
points at the halfway stage has ever surrendered it. Paris
Saint-Germain squandered the biggest cushion when it led Auxerre by
seven points in the winter of 1995 but finished second in 1996
Bordeaux owes much of its success to its defense, the
tightest in the French league and the Champions League. It has
earned 11 cleansheets in the French league and 16 in all
competitions this season.
“We’re defending better, Blanc said. “At the start of the
season, we scored a lot of goals but also conceded some. Now, we do
not concede when we score fewer goals.”
Marseille needs to win at home against Auxerre to ensure it
does not lose any more ground in the title race.
“The priority right now is the match against Auxerre on
Wednesday,” Marseille president Jean-Claude Dassier said. “We must
absolutely take three points.
“There’s a gap of eight points with Bordeaux, maybe just five
if we beat Sochaux (in our game in hand),” Dassier added. “We’ll
visit Bordeaux on Jan. 17.”
Auxerre won seven games in a row to take over at the top at
the end of November. But it has been struggling since then, scoring
only two goals in its last five matches.
Third-place Lille has recently joined the mix of contenders
for at least a Champions League spot.
“We are on an impressive streak and we hope to stretch it at
Nancy (on Wednesday),” Lille coach Rudi Garcia said.
After a sluggish start, the northern team now has the most
potent offense in the league with 33 goals scored, including 19 in
its last five matches. Gervinho and Pierre-Alain Frau have combined
for 17 goals.
“Our opponents know that we can score anytime,” Garcia said.
“That’s a real psychological weapon.”
Lyon, which was jeered last week at Stade Gerland despite a
2-0 win over Boulogne, hosts Montpellier.
“We have one last match to play Wednesday (before the winter
break) and we count on our supporters because it’s an important
match,” Lyon coach Claude Puel said. “We must produce a great
Lyon has won only one of its last seven league matches.
Also Wednesday, it’s: Sochaux vs. Rennes; Le Mans vs. Monaco;
Nice vs. Boulogne; Paris Saint-Germain vs. Grenoble; and Lorient
On Tuesday, Lens faces Saint-Etienne.