Bordeaux trying to run away with title

BY foxsports • December 21, 2009

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 Wednesday.

"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 behind Auxerre.

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 performance."

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 vs. Valenciennes.

On Tuesday, Lens faces Saint-Etienne.