Final European spots up for grabs in France

18th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 18, 2007 (AFP) - The race for Champions League and UEFA Cup places nears its climax in the French League this weekend.

PARIS, May 18, 2007 (AFP) - The race for Champions League and UEFA Cup places nears its climax in the French League this weekend.

The penultimate round of matches sees a tight four-way battle for third spot in championship, which has already been sewn up by Lyon for a record sixth successive year.

Beaten Cup finalists Marseille lie second with 58 points and are followed by Lens and Bordeaux, tied on 56 points, Sochaux (54) and Rennes (53).

Marseille are looking to bounce back from last weekend's Cup final disappointment at the hands of Sochaux as they try to secure their return to Europe's premier competition.

They start with St Etienne away on Saturday, where a win could turn out to be enough to seal the second automatic qualifying berth into the group stages of the Champions League.

Marseille president Papa Diouf said his team had to bounce back from the loss on penalties to Sochaux last weekend.

"That was one of the most disappointing moments I've endured at Marseille," Diouf said.

"I had the impression that the Cup had been promised us but we refused it.

"The frustration is enormous. But luckily in this line of work disappointments, as cruel as they may be, can give way to satisfaction. The fact we're playing to qualify for the Champions League - the initial goal of the club - means we have to remain focused.

"The whole squad were totally despondent (after the loss to Sochaux) but it would be terrible if we let pass a great chance to put the club back on the European tracks. The players know that," Diouf said.

Third-placed Lens host Nice, who lie in 17th place - one spot ahead of the relegation zone, while Bordeaux travel to mid-table Le Mans.

Surprise Cup winners Sochaux travel to Nancy, and sixth-placed Rennes host Lorient. Toulouse, in seventh spot on 52 points and needing an incredible set of results to go their way to clinch a European berth, play Nantes.

Nantes and Sedan are already guaranteed to be relegated to Ligue 2, but Troyes, lying five points behind Nice, have an outside chance of beating the drop should results go their way.

In other games, Monaco host runaway champions Lyon, Auxerre play Lille, Valenciennes travel to Sedan, and Troyes entertain PSG with the Parisians not quite assured of their spot in the French footballing elite.

Playing Saturday

Monaco v Lyon, Lens v Nice, Le Mans v Bordeaux, Saint-Etienne v Marseille, Rennes v Lorient, Nantes v Toulouse, Nancy v Sochaux, Auxerre v Lille, PSG v Troyes, Sedan v Valenciennes

Copyright AFP

SUbject: French news

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