23 October 2014 14:13
Marseille’s Ligue 1 title credentials are sure to be tested in Sunday’s much-anticipated clash at Lyon.
The Olimpico pits two in-form teams against each other, with Marcelo Bielsa’s Marseille equalling a club record for consecutive wins – stretching back to 1998 – with a 2-0 success over Toulouse last time out.
Goals from Nicolas N’Koulou and Andre-Pierre Gignac gave Marseille their eighth victory in a row, form that has seen them build a seven-point lead at the top of Ligue 1.
Gignac is on an outstanding run, having scored 10 goals in as many league appearances this term, but Bielsa will need him to keep his form up in what shapes as a crucial month in their title push.
Following Marseille’s visit to Lyon – a team unbeaten in six and sitting fourth – they travel to rock-bottom Lens before clashes against defending champions Paris Saint-Germain and Bordeaux, second and third respectively.
N’Koulou played down Marseille’s title hopes after their Toulouse win, but acknowledged his side can play a big role this season.
“Paris is still Paris and we’re small compared to them,” N’Koulou said.
“We’re certainly better than last season but Paris, with their arsenal, remain favourites.
“It’s true, though, that we’ll have our word to say. Bielsa deserves a lot of the credit for our string of victories. He’s brought in a new way of working.”
Lyon are also in form and thrashed Montpellier 5-1 last weekend.
PSG remain unbeaten, but are still some way from their best form ahead of their home clash against Bordeaux.
Edinson Cavani’s 87th-minute goal gave PSG a scrappy 1-0 UEFA Champions League win over APOEL on Tuesday, but coach Laurent Blanc will have been encouraged by the returns of first-choice centre-back pairing Thiago Silva and David Luiz.
Talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic is still on the sidelines with a heel problem, while Ezequiel Lavezzi and Marquinhos are battling thigh injuries.
With just goal difference separating the two sides, the result will be crucial for both sides, with PSG likely to take encouragement from winning both league meetings 2-0 last term.
At the other end of the table, Lens could move out of the bottom three with victory at Toulouse on Friday.
Monaco visit Bastia fresh off a goalless Champions League draw against Benfica, while Lorient and Nantes also hit the road to face Caen and Evian respectively.
Lille’s recovery from their UEFA Europa League clash against Everton on Thursday will prove crucial three days later when they go to Rennes, while Saint-Etienne host Metz.
Elsewhere, Reims host Montpellier and Guingamp face Nice.