Paris Saint-Germain need focus and concentration to win a third straight Ligue 1 title, their coach Laurent Blanc said as the injury-hit team prepare to host in-form Brittany side Guingamp on Friday.
With talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic back from suspension to boost their run in PSG have 74 points with three games to go while Lyon, three points behind, are banking on their goal-machine Alexandre Lacazette to push the Parisians to the wire.
“I don’t know if we’ll end up champions but over the last five or six games we’ve been tough to play against,” said Blanc after last weekend’s 2-0 victory at Nantes, which was a sixth straight league win and featured a fine performance from the giant Swedish striker.
“It’s all about concentration and determination to win the ball back. Our current form is due to the focussed concentration the team is achieving,” he explained.
Injuries and suspensions mean Paris’ backline is threadbare for Guingamp’s arrival and their top marksman Claudio Beauvue will be interested to hear that midfielder Thiago Motta may be drafted into central defence. The left-sided Marquinos may be played on the right too.
Gregory van der Wiel is suspended, David Luiz has a foot injury and Serge Aurier a thigh problem as Guingamp come to Paris in the week their coach Jocelyn Gourvennec was shortlisted as manager of the year due to the club’s run to the last-16 of the Europa League.
Second-placed Lyon travel north to relegation-threatened Caen on Saturday with four wins and a draw from their last five games.
Their 27-goal striker Lacazette is expected to win French player of the year next week and he is desperate to boost his tally to 30 by season’s end.
The other three players on the short-list are Javier Pastore, Marco Verratti and Ibrahimovic, all PSG players, and rumours this week in the French press say Lacazette will also be in blue next season.
Lyon president Jean Michel Aulas is trying to deflect this kind of pressure from the champions with a war of words in the press.
“They intimidate their rivals and pressure officials,” Aulas said this week.
On Sunday, fourth-placed Marseille have one last roll of the dice to play in their bid for Champions League soccer next season when they host third-placed Monaco, who lead them by five points.
Marseille president Vincent Labrune is trying to keep coach Marcelo Bielsa to stay next season and feels without a place in Europe’s premier competition the Argentine will leave.
“If OM finish third or seventh, that will of course change things for the coach.”
With Lens relegated and Metz eight points away from safety with nine to play for, Evian, Reims, Toulouse, Lorient and Caen are separated by just a slender two points as the tension mounts.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
PSG v Guingamp (1930)
Caen v Lyon (1600), Bordeaux v Nantes, Evian v Reims, Metz v Lorient, Rennes v Bastia, Toulouse v Lille (2000)
Lens v Montpellier (1300), Saint Etienne v Nice (16:00), Marseille v Monaco (2000)
– Agence France-Presse