Ligue 1 Preview: Lille face Lyon test, PSG aim to extend Toulouse streak
By Football News
European hopefuls Lille and Lyon will steal some of the Ligue 1 spotlight away from Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco when they meet on Sunday.
Lille hold the advantage in the race for the third and final UEFA Champions League spot, but are being closely pursued by several teams all looking to seal a place in Europe's premier club competition.
Lyon are among the sides in the hunt and sit five points adrift of Lille in sixth after suffering two defeats in 14 league matches.
However, recent history ahead of this weekend's meeting favours Lille, who have lost only twice at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in the league all season and have not suffered a home defeat to Lyon since 2008.
Saint-Etienne and Marseille, currently fourth and fifth, can put pressure on their rivals for Champions League qualification with victories on Saturday, but will need to overcome very different challenges in order to do so.
Marseille host a Lorient side on the slide after only one win in six league games, while Saint-Etienne travel to face a Bastia team that possesses a strong home record and fought back to draw 2-2 in the reverse fixture in September.
Second-placed Monaco face another club contending for a European place in Reims, who travel to the Stade Louis II seeking a third straight win.
Claudio Ranieri's men know a win on Friday will move them within two points of leaders and defending champions PSG, the visitors to Toulouse two days later.
PSG have won their last nine games against Toulouse and should be in confident mood following a 4-0 Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen in midweek.
Local bragging rights will be at stake at the Stade de la Beaujoire as Nantes look to complete a Breton derby double over arch-rivals Rennes, while third-bottom Valenciennes host Sochaux, the team immediately below them, in a crucial relegation clash.
Elsewhere, Evian take on Bordeaux in a game between last year's Coupe de France finalists, rock-bottom Ajaccio visit Montpellier and Guingamp face Nice.