15 October 2014 14:27
Ligue 1 leaders Marseille return to action against Toulouse on Sunday hoping to pick up where they left off before the international break.
Marseille have been transformed under the guidance of former Argentina boss Marcelo Bielsa, taking 22 points from a possible 27 to open up a healthy lead at the summit of the French top flight.
In many ways, the south-coast club could have done without the international break, which came after they had strung together seven league wins in a row.
Seemingly benefitting from their lack of European action this term, Marseille sit five points clear of second-placed Bordeaux and will hope top-scorer Andre-Pierre Gignac can continue the form that has seen him score nine goals in as many league appearances. Gignac was also on target for France on Tuesday against Armenia.
Toulouse displayed impressive form of their own prior to the international fixtures and will arrive at the Stade Velodrome unbeaten in four matches, having held champions Paris Saint-Germain to a draw during that period.
That stalemate was one of six draws for PSG this term, with Laurent Blanc’s side continuing to stutter as they go in search of a third consecutive Ligue 1 title.
Talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will likely have benefited from appearances for Sweden against Liechtenstein and Russia, having suffered with injuries in recent weeks, although Blanc still has defensive worries to contend with ahead of the trip to Lens.
While Thiago Silva returned to training this week following a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring problem, the fitness of his Brazil team-mate David Luiz is a cause for concern after he picked up a knock in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Argentina in the Superclasico de las Americas.
Bordeaux will be eager to bounce back from a surprise defeat to Reims last time out, while Metz have been dealt a blow ahead of their match against Rennes with the news that striker Juan Manuel Falcon faces at least four weeks out.
The close-season signing has four goals in eight Ligue 1 games since moving from Zamora but suffered a calf tear while on international duty with Venezuela.
Dimitar Berbatov will be unavailable due to a suspension when Monaco welcome Evian, although the striker has recovered from an ankle injury, while bottom side Guingamp are facing a tall order as they travel to fourth-placed Lille.
However, Rene Girard’s side have lost two of their last three league outings and have beaten Guingamp just once in their last five attempts.
Elsewhere, Guingamp’s fellow strugglers Bastia head to Nice, Nantes host Reims and Lyon host Montpellier in a game switched to the Stade de Gerland after flooding damaged the Stade de la Mosson.
Saint-Etienne, meanwhile, will go in search of a first win in five when they face Lorient at the Stade Yves-Allainmat.