Marseille looks to carry momentum into league

BY foxsports • April 1, 2010

Marseille will look to carry the momentum from its League Cup win into the French league when it hosts Lens on Sunday.

Marseille ended its 17-year wait for a trophy by beating Bordeaux 3-1 in last weekend's League Cup final.

Didier Deschamps' team will now turn its attention to the league - it is currently in sixth place with 53 points, three behind the leader Bordeaux, and on a seven-match unbeaten run.

"It's a relief to have put an end to the club's trophy drought but we still have work to do," Marseille midfielder Fabrice Abriel told French daily L'Equipe. "The season is not over. The club's aim for the end of this season is still to qualify for the Champions League."

Marseille winger Mathieu Valbuena hopes the cup win will give the side more confidence and relieve some of the pressure as it chases top spot in the league.

"We mustn't stop in the middle of the road," Valbuena told L'Equipe. "I hope this victory will allow us to relax and play at our best. We have all the cards in our hands to go and get the title."

Lens is in 15th place with 35 points but Marseille will not underestimate its opponent. Deschamps' men lost 1-0 at Lens in the league last November before getting knocked out of the French Cup by the same team, losing 3-1 in February.

"We can get our revenge," Marseille defender Stephane Mbia told the club's Web site.

Marseille will be without striker Mamadou Niang (hamstring) and midfielder Benoit Cheyrou (calf).

Bordeaux will bid to bounce back from two straight defeats when it plays Nancy on Saturday.

After losing the cup final, Bordeaux was defeated 3-1 by Lyon on Tuesday in the first leg of its Champions League quarterfinal.

The defending champion's season is taking an ugly turn. Bordeaux enjoyed a nine-point lead at the winter break but now Montpellier and Auxerre are level on points with the leader, which has two games in hand.

Nancy will rely on Youssouf Hadji and Issiar Dia to trouble a Bordeaux defense that has recently proved shaky - Dia scored a hat-trick in Nancy's 5-1 win over Lens last Sunday.

Nancy is in 12th place with 39 points and has virtually secured its safety.

"In my view, it's been quite a while since Nancy has been safe," Nancy coach Pablo Correa told the club's Web site. "Trust me, that's not a small thing. It may sometimes look like a lack of ambition, but (staying in the top division) means a lot to us."

Lyon has to refocus on the domestic front after its outstanding performance against Bordeaux in Europe.

"Even though we took a big step toward qualifying for the Champions League semifinals, the French league remains our priority," Lyon playmaker Miralem Pjanic told the club's Web site. "Our goal is still a finish in the top three."

Lyon has recently dropped points against lowly teams like Boulogne and Saint-Etienne and may struggle on Saturday at Rennes, which has won its last four games.

Currently in fifth place with 54 points, Lyon cannot afford to finish outside the top three: qualifying for next year's Champions League is crucial financially for a club which has the largest budget in France.

"We are aware of the difficulty of preparing for a (domestic) match between two Champions League matches," Lyon manager Claude Puel told the club's Web site. "But facing a direct rival for a European spot will prevent us from unwinding."

Rennes is in seventh place with 49 points and is trying to get back into the race for a European spot.

"We still have that little challenge," Rennes coach Frederic Antonetti told the club's Web site. "We could narrow the gap a bit with that match against Lyon. But we will have to produce an exceptional run to catch up with them (Lyon). And we will also have to hope that they slip a bit."

Rennes forward Jimmy Briand was sidelined by a knee injury for seven months after colliding with goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso during France training in March 2009. But he is now getting back to his best form, and will hope to make an impression on France coach Raymond Domenech ahead of this summer's World Cup in South Africa.

Briand scored twice last weekend in Rennes' 3-1 victory at Le Mans.

Lyon will be without Cameroon midfielder Jean Makoun, who has a groin injury, while Rennes striker Asamoah Gyan has inflammation in his right knee and is a doubt.

Also on Saturday, it's: Grenoble vs. Lorient, Nice vs. Sochaux, Saint-Etienne vs. Le Mans, Valenciennes vs. Lille, and Montpellier vs. Monaco.

On Sunday, Toulouse takes on Boulogne and Auxerre faces Paris Saint-Germain.