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Football: Saint-Etienne reluctant to get off their cloud

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

After the euphoria of winning their first major trophy in 32 years, Saint-Etienne are now on the brink of a maiden qualification for the Champions League as they travel to arch rivals Lyon on Sunday for a derby crunch encounter.

The 'Green Devils,' who almost became the first French club to win the European Cup in 1976 when they were beaten 1-0 by a Bayern Munich side that featured Franz Beckenbauer, Karl-Heinze Rummenigge and Gerd Muller, are two points behind third-placed Lyon with five matches to play.

Coach Christopher Galtier has also fashioned a side that are just one point away from equalling their best ever Ligue 1 points tally and while their recent record against Lyon is woeful, the club are on a high, following their weekend 1-0 League Cup win over Rennes which guarantees them Europa League football next season at worst.

Even so, the visitors have beaten Lyon only once in their last 21 league meetings.

"We're now two points behind Lyon and have put a bit of distance between ourselves and our rivals but I do not want our season to end at the Stade de France" with the Rennes win, said Galtier following a 4-2 midweek win over Ajaccio.

Striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang says the team have unfinished business at the Stade Gerland.

"We can't be too euphoric," said the Gabon international after scoring twice against Ajaccio.

The cup success "has relieved the pressure going into the derby but I hope we don't get distracted from the job at hand.

"We're on a cloud right now and we all feel great," added midfielder Josuha Guilavogui.

Paris Saint-Germain have drifted out of the spotlight after their exit from the Champions League and French Cup but a morale boosting 3-0 win over Nice and a nine-point lead over Marseille looks set to bring the French title back to the Parc des Princes for the first time since 1994.

The team travel to Evian on Sunday for a chance to avenge their French Cup quarter-final defeat against a side just one point above the drop zone.

PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti continues to be linked with the Real Madrid post with Jose Mourinho widely tipped to be on his way out at the end of the season.

"He has one year left on his contract and we want him to stay," said sporting director Leonardo over the Italian's future.

"But first of all, we have to win the championship, that is our absolute priority. After that, it will be Carlo who decides," added the Brazilian.

Fifth-placed Lille have hit a rich vein of form and can pull level with Lyon on Friday if they can overcome third from bottom Sochaux.

They were also boosted this week by the news that coach Rudi Garcia will definitely be with the club next season.

"The coach will be here next season. He told us, he told you and the chairman announced it as well. Hopefully now people will listen to us," playmaker Benoit Pedretti told reporters this week.

Nice in sixth are also in the hunt for a surprise top three finish but the reverse in Paris last weekend leaves them five points back of Lyon ahead of the must win home match against rock bottom Troyes on Sunday.

Fixtures (all times GMT):

Friday:

Lille v Sochaux (1830)

Saturday

Lorient v Marseille (1500), Valenciennes v Nancy (1800), Bastia v Toulouse (1800), Brest v Rennes (1800), Bordeaux v Reims (1800), Ajaccio v Montpellier (1800)

Sunday

Lyon v Saint-Etienne (1200), Nice v Troyes (1500), Evian v Paris Saint-Germain (1900)

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