Ligue 1 Preview: PSG host resurgent Valenciennes, Monaco meet Bastia
By Football News
Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be rested as Paris Saint-Germain aim to maintain their charge to the Ligue 1 title against Valenciennes.
Striker Ibrahimovic, the division's top scorer with 18 goals from 23 games, featured in last Sunday's 1-1 draw at Monaco despite back problems, but reports have indicated that he may miss Friday's clash ahead of Tuesday's UEFA Champions League last-16 trip to Bayer Leverkusen.
It remains to be seen if Edinson Cavani will return from a thigh injury, and the prospective absence of PSG's fearsome strike duo will act as a boost to relegation-threatened Valenciennes - who picked up a valuable 2-1 win against Nice last time out.
A PSG win would extend the gap at the top to eight points and increase the pressure on Claudio Ranieri's Monaco ahead of a tough trip to Bastia, who have lost just once in the league at home this season, on Saturday.
Bastia also showed signs of improvement on the road in midweek, securing their first away win of the season on Wednesday, beating 10-man Toulouse 3-1 on their own patch.
Bulgarian forward Dimitar Berbatov could be in line to make his full Monaco debut after he came on as a substitute in the draw with PSG.
Third-placed Lille, meanwhile, will look to keep pace with the top two when they visit an Evian side that has not won a Ligue 1 game since earning a shock 2-0 triumph over PSG on December 4.
Saint-Etienne are only three points behind Rene Girard's side, but face a stern test of their UEFA Champions League qualification credentials against fifth-placed Marseille on Sunday.
Jose Anigo's visitors can leapfrog Saint-Etienne with a win and boost prospects of a return to Europe's premier club competition, in which they failed to win a single point this season.
Coupe de la Ligue finalists Lyon can keep remain close to that trio by beating bottom club Ajaccio, who overcame Rennes last weekend to win for just the second time in the league this term.
Second-bottom Sochaux face a Guingamp side who are winless in the league since November in a crucial clash at the foot of the table, while Reims host Bordeaux in a meeting of two sides still harbouring slim European ambitions.
Elsewhere, Rennes meet Montpellier, Lorient take on Toulouse and Nice face Nantes.