Ligue 1 Preview: PSG host Ajaccio, Monaco aim to bounce back against Montpellier
By Football News
Paris Saint-Germain meet Ajaccio in a top-versus-bottom clash on Saturday in the first round of Ligue 1 fixtures since the mid-season break.
Laurent Blanc's men will be hoping to recover from the minor blip in form that saw them just cling on to top spot in the run-up to the interval with a victory at Stade Francois Coty.
With the reigning champions dropping five points in their last four matches, a shock 2-1 home defeat to Valenciennes saw second-placed Monaco waste a chance to go level on points at the summit ahead of the festive period.
PSG suffered a 1-0 friendly loss to Real Madrid during their time off, and returned to competitive action on Wednesday with a 5-2 triumph over Brest, Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring a hat-trick.
Their opponents this weekend have won just one of their 19 Ligue 1 matches this term and sit eight points adrift of safety, but held PSG to a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture in August.
Monaco face a similar challenge to the capital club as they visit 17th-placed Montpellier on Friday.
The hosts, who won the title in 2012, have dramatically underperformed this term - winning just two league games all season.
Monaco, meanwhile were on a five-match winning run in the league until their surprise reverse against Valenciennes last time out, and coach Claudio Ranieri will be keen to re-intensify the pressure on PSG.
The league's top three have broken away from the chasing pack, with Lille, who host Reims on Sunday, completing the leading trio.
After a shaky start to the season, Rene Girard's charges lost just one of 14 fixtures before the break to stake their claim as serious title contenders, but Reims are one of only three teams to have beaten them this season.
Lorient suffered the biggest upset in the Coupe de France round of 64 last weekend - losing 1-0 to fourth-tier Yzeure - and will be looking for a quick recovery when they visit Nantes on Sunday.
Elsewhere, fifth-placed Bordeaux welcome Toulouse to Stade Chaban-Delmas, Saint-Etienne head to Guingamp, and Marseille travel to Evian.
Meanwhile, Lyon are at home to Sochaux, Bastia face a trip to Valenciennes, and Nice travel to Rennes.