Blanc feels pressure as Bordeaux’s title bid fades

Marseille’s bid to win the French league is gaining momentum at the

right time, while Bordeaux’s defense of its title is fading so

badly that Laurent Blanc’s team is in danger of not even qualifying

for the Champions League.

Wednesday’s 2-1 loss at struggling Le Mans left Blanc feeling

exasperated with his players, a third straight defeat seeing

Bordeaux drop down to fifth place. A loss at home to Lyon on

Saturday would make it difficult to secure a top-three finish.

Blanc feels several players have let the team down and are

not performing well enough compared to earlier in the season.

“That’s what’s incredible about football, it’s the same

players who did so well in the first part of the season,” Blanc

said. “At the moment, there are individual mistakes being made in

every match.”

Marseille, which is top by five points after its 1-0 win at

Sochaux on Wednesday, looks for a sixth league victory in a row

when it visits lowly Boulogne.

Bordeaux had led Marseille by eight points at the winter

break, was still on course for a domestic treble and was also

involved in the Champions League after finishing its qualifying

group unbeaten and ahead of Juventus and Bayern Munich.

But Bordeaux has won only two of its last 10 league games,

lost the League Cup final to Marseille and was knocked out of the

Champions League at the quarterfinal stage by Lyon.

Marseille has 65 points after 32 games, five more than

Auxerre. Lyon has 58 points and leads fourth-place Montpellier on

goal difference, while Bordeaux has 56 points and has played a game

less. Lille is one point behind Bordeaux in sixth.

Blanc said he will now play “young and carefree players”

against Lyon, meaning he will certainly pick a few players from the

youth team to serve as a wake-up call to some of his senior men.

Lyon coach Claude Puel will be without defender Jean-Alain

Boumsong (calf), midfielder Jean II Makoun (adductor) and

midfielder Mathieu Bodmer (hamstring). Defender Dejan Lovren is

struggling to shake off a knee injury.

Blanc is being increasingly linked with the France coach’s

job, as a replacement for Raymond Domenech, who is leaving the role

after the World Cup. Sports daily L’Equipe reported Thursday that

Blanc will be named as the new coach on May 20.

Still, despite the turmoil inside the Bordeaux camp,

Marseille’s players are refusing to get carried away.

“We are five points ahead of Auxerre but there are six games

left. We still have to go to Lille and to Auxerre. It will be hard

until the end,” Marseille striker Mamadou Niang said. “We can still

have a bad patch.”

Marseille scraped the win at Sochaux with a late goal from

Stephane M’Bia and was outplayed for large parts of that match.

“It’s going our way but we will have to fight until the end,”

Marseille winger Fabrice Abriel said.

In Saturday’s other games, it is: Rennes vs. Nancy; Nice vs.

Lens; Grenoble vs. Sochaux; Auxerre vs. Lorient; and Valenciennes

vs. Le Mans.

In Sunday’s games, it is: Montpellier vs. Toulouse; Lille vs.

Monaco; and Saint-Etienne vs. Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG and Monaco both won their French Cup semifinals and will

meet in the final on May 1 at Stade de France.