Join soccerly to save and share the best soccer stories
Sign up with Facebook
By login in with Facebook you agree on the terms and conditions specified here


Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc faces a dilemma for the visit of third-from-bottom Valenciennes on Friday night.

The French league leaders should have enough in reserve to overcome their relegation-threatened opponents but, just four days away from a Champions League trip to Germany where they meet in-form Bayer Leverkusen, Blanc could be tempted to rest some of his regulars.

With a five-point cushion over second-placed Monaco, after holding the Principality side to 1-1 draw last week, PSG would be expected to coast it against their struggling opponents. 

But Blanc may still ring the changes, with star striker Zlatan Ibrahmovic complaining of back pains which restricted his movement in Monaco and new signing Yohan Cobaye needing game time to blend into the formation. However, Blanc can ill-afford to lose Ibrahimovic's strike power, particularly in the continuing absence of Edinson Cavani, although he will still want the Swedish star to be at his prolific best in Germany.

Similarly, Brazilian defender Marquinhos could find himself thrust into action in place of the injured Christophe Jallet, with Zoumana Camara also doubtful and Javier Pastore's fine performance in Monaco should see him get another run out.

PSG have been rather less convincing since their return from the winter break than they were in the early season, and Blanc puts it down to tiredness.

But it is "mental not physical fatigue", he explained. "We need to rediscover a certain freshness," he said. "We're in the habit of playing League matches before Champions League matches, and this is just the same as all the rest."

Valencienns coach Ariel Jacobs sees his side's chances in the fact that PSG "are already thinking about the Champions League".

But he admitted: "We're going to have be at 250 percent", while hoping that the Paris side "are only at 70 percent".

For their part, Valenciennes, desperate for points to avoid the drop, are likely to be forced to field a below-strength side, with Mody Traore and Opa Nguette likely to miss out after picking up injuries in the confidence-boosting 2-1 win over Nice last weekend.

Their other injury worries after that game, Matthieu Dossevi, Rudy Mater, Abdou Camara and Arthur Masuaku are, however, said to be on the mend and ready to feature in the squad at the Parc des Princes.


French giants Marseille will aim to stop their recent rot when they host struggling Valenciennes in a Ligue 1 match that was initially postponed earlier this month.

Having sparred earlier in the season with top two Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco, Marseille have now slumped to ninth in the table following a dismal run of form that also saw them bundled out of both the French Cup and League Cup competitions over the last two weeks. They have only one win in their last six league matches and three defeats in a row in all competitions.

What's more, their notoriously fiery fans turned viciously against them last week with one hardline ultra group blasting the players as "sub-human" in an internet posting that was later taken down. Not only are matters on the pitch and in the stands causing concern but rumours are rife that the dressing room is far from a harmonious place.

Jose Anigo's team, the 1993 European champions, currently sit nine points off the Champions League qualifying positions, although they do have a game in hand. Their one saving grace on Wednesday is that they will be entertaining a team in dire straits, Valenciennes having recently dropped into the relegation zone.

With home matches against Toulouse and Bastia next up, a victory is a must if the nine-time champions are to start to turn their increasingly miserable season around.

Even so, Anigo is far from confident, saying: "Winning twice in a row at home is not easy, so three times!"

As for Valenciennes, their coach Ariel Jacobs is wary of a potential backlash from the angered home side.

"I don't like to speculate on the level of morale at our opponents," he said. "Marseille are coming off three matches without a win, being eliminated from two cup competitions, will there be a revolt?

"We don't know. Do they have pressure and doubts? We don't know that either. We can't rely on that, we have to be ready physically and mentally; Marseille's quality will ensure this is a tough match."


Marseille are now unbeaten in five domestic games under Jose Anigo after coming from behind to beat Evian 2-1 in Annecy on Sunday. On-loan winger Pape Amodou Sougou put the home side in front against his parent club, but Benoit Cheyrou equalised for OM and Andre-Pierre Gignac netted what turned out to be the winner before the interval.

It was Marseille's first-ever win away to Evian and the three points lifted them back up to fifth place in the Ligue 1 table. However, they remain eight points adrift of the Champions League qualification places, and that gap could increase if Lille take something from their game at home to Reims later on Sunday.

In the summer, OM raided Evian to sign their Tunisian international forward Saber Khalifa, with Senegalese winger Sougou moving in the opposite direction on a season-long loan deal. Both players featured prominently at the Parc des Sports, with Sougou meeting a left-wing corner to send a looping header over goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and into the net at the far post on 15 minutes.

It was his fourth league goal of the season, although he refused to celebrate against the club to whom he still belongs. The visitors were level within seven minutes, though, as Cheyrou collected a loose ball in a central position 25 yards from goal and curled a beautiful shot over 'keeper Bertrand Laquait and into the net.

Gignac then made it 2-1 in the 38th minute, heading in his sixth goal in five games in all competitions from a clipped Florian Thauvin cross. OM had chances to increase their lead in the second half, notably when Khalifa hit the bar as he attempted to lob Laquait from 30 yards. However, they held on to claim what was their first win in the league since late November, while the defeat leaves Evian just three points above the drop zone.

Earlier, Nantes beat local rivals Lorient 1-0 at the Stade de la Beaujoire, Ismael Bangoura firing home his first goal for the club since May 2012 to seal the points with just a minute remaining. Yann Jouffre hit the bar from a free-kick in stoppage time for Lorient, who suffered a first defeat in eight Ligue 1 games. Nantes are sixth after the win, and the impact of the Guinean Bangoura was particularly welcome.

The southern Brittany side face the prospect of a FIFA-imposed transfer ban, of at least a year, for allegedly going against the rules with their signing of Bangoura from Emirati club Al Nasr in 2012. That could prove particularly damaging if this season's eight-goal top scorer Filip Djordjevic, who set up Bangoura's goal against Lorient, leaves as expected when his contract expires in the summer.

Lille can leapfrog Monaco and go second by beating Reims, cutting Paris Saint-Germain's lead at the top of the table to four points in the process. PSG were not at their best away to Ajaccio on Saturday, but still came from behind to win 2-1 against the division's bottom club thanks to goals by Ezequiel Lavezzi and Blaise Matuidi. Monaco were held to a 1-1 draw at Montpellier on Friday.


Two points clear going into the final round of games of 2013, Paris Saint-Germain can clinch the symbolic title of autumn champions when they entertain challengers Lille on Sunday.

PSG come into the weekend two points clear of Monaco at the top of Ligue 1, with Lille a further two points adrift in third, so a win for Laurent Blanc's side would open a significant gap to their opponents.

Champions in 2011, Lille have surprisingly emerged as a threat to the current title holders thanks largely to a miserly defence which has conceded just six goals in 18 matches.

Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama has been outstanding, but he faces a huge test against a PSG side led by Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani, who together have been one of the most prolific strike pairings in Europe this season.

The duo have scored a collective total of 26 Ligue 1 goals, and 40 in all competitions, with Uruguayan star Cavani netting both in Wednesday's 2-1 win at home to Saint-Etienne in the League Cup.

However, the decisive goal in that game came late in extra time and Blanc's biggest concern will be the fitness of his players against a Lille side who did not play in midweek.

"Of course we would have preferred not to go to extra time but at least we won," Blanc said. "Hopefully the fact that we won will help us recover quicker, even if we used up a lot of energy.

"The League Cup is one of our objectives, even if it is perhaps not the most important one. We are PSG and we want to win every match."

That may sound ominous for Lille, who have not won at the Parc des Princes since April 1996. Meanwhile, PSG are unbeaten in 30 home games since November last year.

"PSG get better as the years go by," admitted Lille's Ronny Rodelin. "They are an impressive side but we must not be afraid. We are capable of competing with them."


Defending champions Paris Saint-Germain provisionally moved top of Ligue 1 on Wednesday after a 1-0 win away to struggling Valenciennes.

Record signing Edinson Cavani netted his third goal of the season on the stroke of half-time after linking up with Zlatan Ibrahimovic to maintain PSG's unbeaten start to the season.

Laurent Blanc's side also moved to the summit of the table for the first time this term, one point ahead of previous leaders Monaco, who host Bastia in Wednesday's late match.

"We burned a lot of energy in the Monaco match and only had three days to recover. It was a difficult match in all senses," said Blanc. "But the important thing is to have taken the three points because we'll have plenty of matches like that over the course of the season."

Defeat for Valenciennes extended the northerners' losing streak to six, leaving them second from bottom on just three points.

Blanc made four changes to the side that drew 1-1 with Monaco in the capital on Sunday, electing to rotate his squad with PSG currently on a run of five fixtures in 15 days. A fit-again Alex replaced injured compatriot Thiago Silva, who faces six weeks out with a thigh injury, to partner Marquinhos in central defense with Christophe Jallet and Lucas Digne also recalled at the back.

Javier Pastore was given the nod ahead of Thiago Motta in midfield and the Argentine almost marked his return to the starting line-up with a goal inside the opening 60 seconds only to blaze over with just goalkeeper Nicolas Penneteau to beat.

Pastore again shot over from a tight angle shortly after as both 'keepers were relatively untroubled in a quiet first 45 minutes before Cavani struck two minutes into first-half stoppage.

Ibrahimovic, who on Tuesday signed a contract extension tying him to the club until 2016, carried the ball from well inside his own half before picking out the angled run of Cavani, who shot low first time across Penneteau into the far corner.

PSG were dealt a blow as Zoumana Camara came on for Alex at half-time as the Brazilian's return from injury was cut short.

The hosts then responded after the break with Marco Verratti forced to clear off the line from a Lindsay Rose header with 'keeper Salvatore Sirigu then scrambling across his line as Anthony Le Tallec's free-kick whistled just wide of the post. The former Liverpool striker, though, missed an excellent chance to haul the home side level late on as Matthieu Dossevi's effort was deflected into his path but Le Tallec failed to make any contact from six yards out as PSG held on for a narrow win.

Elsewhere, goals from Salim Arrache and Aboubacar Demba Camara gave Fabrizio Ravanelli's Ajaccio their first victory of the season as they recorded a 2-1 win at home to Lyon.

Martin Braithwaite's 72nd-minute winner handed Toulouse a 1-0 win over Lorient, while promoted Guingamp routed basement club Sochaux 5-1, Nantes beat Nice 2-0 and Bordeaux drew 0-0 with Reims.