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PREVIEW-Soccer-Lyon the minnows as PSG take over in France

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

By Julien Pretot

PARIS, Feb 7 (Reuters) - A former advocate of free market, Olympique Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas finds himself in the position of defender of the old values of soccer as his club has been dwarfed by Paris St Germain's lavish spending policy.

OL Groupe lost over 85 percent of its share value in six years on the market and while seven-times champions Lyon remain one of French football's powerhouses, they are struggling to follow Qatar-backed PSG's pace and are three points adrift of the Ligue 1 leaders.

PSG, on 48 points from 23 matches, will open up a six-point gap if they beat Bastia at the Parc des Princes in Friday's curtain-raiser (1930 GMT) as Lyon take on Lille on Sunday (2000).

Aulas, an outspoken character with a penchant for off-the-cuff remarks, wrote on his Twitter feed on Monday in an obvious reference to PSG: "There is sometimes more merit in growing and succeeding after starting from nothing than glorifying and worshipping money you don't own."

PSG spent over 200 million euros ($270.76 million)on transfers since Qatari investors took over two years ago and last week bagged former England captain David Beckham as a free agent.

Aulas, meanwhile, let Brazil midfielder Michel Bastos join Schalke 04 as he tries to reduce Lyon's salary costs and he has been forced to bank on young prospects.

Third-placed Olympique Marseille, who trail PSG by six points after they slumped to an embarrassing home defeat against strugglers Nancy last weekend, travel to Evian Thonon Gaillard on Sunday (1300) with defender Souleymane Diawara urging his team mates to rediscover their early-season spirit.

"Our mindset had changed a bit since the beginning of the season," Diawara told OM's website (www.om.net)

"Without it, we can lose against anyone. We must rediscover the state of mind we had early in the season."

OM lead fourth-placed Girondins Bordeaux by four points before the Aquitaine side, who have won three of their last three games, travel to AC Ajaccio on Saturday (1900).

Champions Montpellier, who are in eighth place on 35 points travel to sixth-placed St Etienne (37) as both teams attempt to stay in the race for the European places. ($1 = 0.7387 euros) (Editing by Alison Wildey)

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/thomson-reuters/130207/preview-soccer-lyon-the-minnows-psg-take-over-france