Connect to share and comment

Football: PSG on brink of title glory

PlacardEnlarge
(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

There are still four games of the Ligue 1 season remaining but Paris Saint-Germain could wrap up their first title since 1994 if results go their way this weekend.

After starting the campaign as overwhelming title favourites, the capital club have been permanent fixtures in top spot since late January and came into May nine points clear of second-placed Marseille at the summit.

It is therefore only a matter of time before they become the sixth different name on the trophy in the last six seasons.

If Marseille fail to beat Bastia at the Stade Velodrome on Saturday afternoon, then Paris will be in a position to be crowned champions by bettering OM's result when they host Valenciennes at the Parc des Princes on Sunday evening.

But even if Marseille win, PSG will effectively be champions with a win of their own thanks to their vastly superior goal difference.

Given Valenciennes' woeful form in recent times, it is hard to see beyond a PSG win, even if they must do without goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu, Marco Verratti, Thiago Motta and David Beckham -- who celebrated his 38th birthday on Thursday -- due to suspension.

"Everyone will be looking out for Marseille's result on Saturday, of course," said PSG's Brazilian defender Alex. "But, for us, it doesn't really matter. We just need to get the job done, win on Sunday and be champions as soon as possible."

Marseille come into their encounter with Bastia in fine form thanks to a run of eight matches without defeat since losing 2-0 to PSG in late February.

Elie Baup's side have also gone seven matches without conceding a goal, so should be too strong for their Corsican opponents, who are not yet entirely safe from the threat of relegation.

However, OM have selection problems, with Benoit Cheyrou and Rod Fanni injured for the game and Andre Ayew suspended after his sending-off in last week's win against Lorient.

Nobody in Marseille has ever seriously contemplated the prospect of winning the title, but achieving Champions League qualification would in itself make this a successful campaign for a limited side.

"We deserve to be where we are. We have not stolen the points we have picked up," said playmaker Mathieu Valbuena.

"We need to be honest and admit that we have not exactly made our fans dream this year, but the essential thing is that we are up near the top of the table."

"Paris are playing like champions and, with the lead they have now, the title belongs to them," added Marseille coach Baup. "They might not win it this weekend, but there is no doubt that the title is theirs."

Elsewhere, the battle for third place continues as Lyon travel to struggling Nancy on Sunday, while their closest challengers Saint-Etienne entertain Bordeaux on Friday.

Les Verts put their 15-game unbeaten league run since the winter break on the line with coach Christophe Galtier not hiding his desire to pip rivals Lyon to third.

"Our objective is finish third," he said.

"It is an ambitious objective but a realistic one. We need to keep playing with the same level of enthusiasm and make sure we have no regrets."

Lille, in fifth, travel to face Toulouse, while Nice go to Rennes on Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, at the bottom, Troyes simply have to beat Evian to keep their survival hopes alive and Brest are looking to end a run of seven successive defeats when they go to out-going champions Montpellier.

Fixtures (all kick-offs 1800 GMT unless stated)

Friday

Saint-Etienne v Bordeaux (1830 GMT)

Saturday

Marseille v Bastia (1500 GMT), Montpellier v Brest, Reims v Ajaccio, Sochaux v Lorient, Toulouse v Lille, Troyes v Evian

Sunday

Rennes v Nice (1200 GMT), Nancy v Lyon (1500 GMT), Paris Saint-Germain v Valenciennes (1900GMT)

as/dj

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130502/football-psg-brink-title-glory