Ligue 1 Preview: Monaco bid to salvage pride, PSG eye fifth straight win
By Football News
Monaco must beat Sochaux on Saturday to keep the Ligue 1 title race competitive, even if coach Claudio Ranieri has already conceded defeat.
Ranieri reacted to Monaco's 2-0 defeat at Saint-Etienne last Saturday – the side's first reverse of 2014 – by stating that defending champions Paris Saint-Germain were always going to regain the title this season.
PSG then beat Marseille 24 hours later to go eight points clear with 11 games remaining.
While Ranieri has given up on overhauling Laurent Blanc's men, the Italian will be keen to finish the campaign strongly and will be confident of returning to winning ways against a Sochaux side that are second bottom.
A five-game unbeaten run at home against Sochaux will also give Monaco plenty of confidence heading into the weekend.
In Sochaux, though, Monaco face a resurgent side. After winning just two of their first 22 league fixtures, Sochaux have now won three of the last five to go within five points of climbing out of the drop zone.
PSG, meanwhile, travel to Bastia looking to strengthen their stranglehold on top spot.
Confidence in Blanc's squad will be sky high after securing their fourth consecutive win in all competitions last Sunday.
Frederic Hantz's Bastia are ninth after a three-match winless run in which they have scored just once.
The fixture will no doubt bring painful reminders of the encounter between the two sides earlier this season, which saw PSG triumph 4-0 thanks to a brace apiece from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani.
Indeed, Bastia's recent record against the Parisians is woeful, with their last win coming in February 2003 in a 1-0 victory.
Since then, the two have met eight times - with PSG winning seven of them.
Cavani made a scoring return off the bench in last weekend's win and will be pushing to start. The home side could be without up to six players, but will be boosted by the return of Sambou Yatabare from suspension.
Lille and Saint-Etienne lie seven and eight points behind Monaco in third and fourth respectively and will be looking to pounce on any slip up.
Lille, the 2010-11 champions, face the team that succeeded them as the country's best - Montpellier, who currently reside closer to the relegation spots than the European places.
Saint-Etienne could move into the UEFA Champions League spots with victory against Lorient.
Elsewhere, Bordeaux host Lyon with both teams still in with a shout of snatching a European place, while a win for Marseille over Nice on Friday could put them within two points of fourth.
Valenciennes tackle Rennes and Evian travel to Guingamp, who have won two on the spin.
Nantes face rock-bottom Ajaccio, who are 13 points adrift of safety, and a win for Reims at Toulouse will put them into the European reckoning.