PSG fear fatigue factor

Laurent Blanc (AFP)
Laurent Blanc (AFP)

Paris - Paris Saint-Germain can close within one point of leaders Marseille with victory over their arch-rivals on Sunday which would cap a week in which they also guaranteed their place in the Champions League knockout phase.

Laurent Blanc's unbeaten champions won their fifth straight match on Wednesday, when a narrow 1-0 win over APOEL Nicosia was enough to seal their place in the last-16 of Europe's most prestigious competition.

However Blanc realises Marseille, who are currently four points clear, will benefit from their extra rest this week and the fact that they are taking no part in European competition this season.

Marcelo Bielsa's Marseille side equalled a club record with eight straight wins on their rise to the top of Ligue 1 but a tough 1-0 defeat at Lyon snapped that run which was then followed by League Cup elimination by Rennes.

"Is playing a Champions League match on a Wednesday ideal preparation for a 'Clasico' on a Sunday? I don't know," said Blanc, who played as a defender for Marseille between 1997 and 1999.

"Winning is always better than losing or drawing, it helps you recover better.

"Marseille will come here with an ambitious mindset after the start they have had to the season, but we will approach the match in the same way."

"We have dropped points in games this season but the fact we are playing in the Champions League has prevented us from picking up as many as we maybe deserve.

"It's certainly an advantage for Marseille, and the more games you play the more you expose yourself to the risk of picking up injuries."

Edinson Cavani has picked up the PSG slack, with Swedish star Zlatan Ibrahimovic still struggling with a foot injury.

The Uruguayan has scored in his last four matches to equal his best streak with the club.

Ibrahimovic may return for the high-profile match at the Parc des Princes and Blanc confirmed there is a real chance their talisman could be in the starting line-up.

"His problem is quite unique but there have been some very encouraging signs the past few days even if we still don't know when he will be ready.

"He has worked very hard and if his progress continues in the next few days, anything is possible."

Lyon have quietly climbed the table into third spot and a home victory over 16th placed Guingamp on Sunday will draw them within two points of Bielsa's side ahead of the clash in the capital.

Bordeaux are level with Saint-Etienne and seven adrift as Willy Sagnol's controversial week finishes with a trip to Lens on Saturday.

The Bordeaux coach had to apologise over his comments regarding African players and for declaring that the scheduling of the African Cup of Nations influenced his decision to sign players from the continent.

Saint-Etienne face Monaco who were beaten 1-0 by Benfica in the Champions League in midweek.

Bastia begin life without sacked coach Claude Makelele on Saturday, when Montpellier are in Corsica while sixth-placed Nantes make the short trip to Normandy and a key clash at Caen.

Rennes open the weekend slate on Friday at home to Lorient in the Brittany derby.

Fixtures (all times 18:00 GMT unless stated)


Rennes v Lorient (18:30)


Lens v Bordeaux (15:00) Bastia v Montpellier, Caen v Nantes, Evian v Nice, Toulouse v Metz


Lyon v Guingamp (12:00), Saint-Etienne v Monaco (15:00), Reims v Lille (15:00), Paris Saint-Germain v Marseille (19:00)

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