Football: Lyon confident of stretching lead over Nancy
Nancy host the six-time league winners and current league leaders Saturday in the hope of closing the gap to just a point at the top
PARIS, Dec 21, 2007 - French minnows Nancy are not used to being seen
as a giant of European football but that is the status they have been
generously afforded by Lyon keeper Remy Vercoutre.
Nancy host the six-time league winners and current league leaders Saturday
in the hope of closing the gap to just a point at the top of the French first
And Vercoutre believes their meeting could give both sets of fans the
pre-Christmas gift of top quality football before the short festive break.
"It's a crucial match for us as regards points against the second placed
side in the table. Nancy have the chance to close the gap to a point," said
Vercoutre, who will eventually drop back down the pecking order once Lyon's
number one keeper Gregory Coupet returns from an injury lay-off in January.
"We're used to doing well in these kinds of matches and we have to hope
that will be the case against Nancy, who don't concede many goals and have a
"It will be a match of European proportions. I just hope the weather won't
be a factor as regards the condition of the pitch.
"Whatever the score I think it's still a bit too early to be coming to any
conclusions about the championship. It's only the halfway point. But still, we
will be going out to show that we're in this to win the title."
Nancy, along with Bordeaux, Le Mans and Valenciennes, are one of the few
teams to have kept close tabs on Lyon this season.
But while there remains half of the championship to play, Lyon already
appear to be the best candidates from among the bunch to lay claim to the
If only the traditional 'giants' of French football were up to the task,
the French first division might be so much more exciting.
As it stands, former European champions Marseille have slipped into the
bottom half of the table, and virtually out of the race, while Paris St
Germain are battling to stay out of the drop zone.
Marseille looked to have one foot in the knockout phase of the Champions
League until Liverpool gave them a lesson in football with a 4-0 rout, in
Marseille, two weeks ago.
Eric Gerets' side host Le Mans at the Velodrome on Saturday, and given
their visitors exemplary record, for such a modest club, they could be shown
about as much respect as the Reds.
Marseille's task has not been helped by the fact their defence has been
decimated by injury, with central defender Jacques Faty the latest player
likely to be missing.
Marseille coach Gerets was none too pleased when Faty was tackled
aggressivley by his own teammate Vincent Gragnic in training in midweek.
Because of injuries and suspensions elsewhere, the Belgian could now be
forced to call up Leyti N'Diaye to partner Ronald Zubar in central defence.
Gerets, however, gave a warning to Gragnic - who has played only three
times for Marseille this season.
"When you're a bit frustrated at not being given the chance to show what
you can do, it's best not to take it out on someone else like that," said
Gerets. "It shows a lack of respect to your teammates."
PSG meanwhile have been boosted by the club president's midweek decision
not to sack coach Paul Le Guen, despite the capital side slipping to third
from bottom after notching only four wins in 18 games.
Nevertheless Le Guen's troubled stay at PSG is likely to be confounded this
Sunday in a tricky encounter away at Saint Etienne.
Nancy v Lyon, Sochaux v Bordeaux, Marseille v Le Mans, Nice v Valenciennes,
Caen v Strasbourg, Auxerre v Monaco, Lorient v Metz
Toulouse v Rennes, Lens v Lille, Saint-Etienne v Paris St Germain