PARIS (AFP) –
Carlo Ancelotti may rest several key players, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, at home to Reims as Paris Saint Germain attempt to close the three point gap on French league leaders Marseille.
The Sweden captain inspired his country’s astonishing four-goal comeback in Germany in midweek when the sides finished 4-4 in a World Cup qualifier, but has only trained lightly along with Brazilian teammate Thiago Silva as Ancelotti has one eye on next week’s Champions League trip to Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb.
If the 53-year-old Italian handler opts to rest his prized asset, it will give another chance for in-form striker Kevin Gameiro to pick up the slack.
“I knew that competition would be tough for places but I showed the coach what I could do against Sochaux (scored twice) and I am not giving up and will do anything to be in the team,” he said.
“It’s going to be a tough game against a promoted side who will come here to play,” the 25-year-old French international told L’Equipe.
The capital outfit remain unbeaten in league action but take on one of the early surprises in Reims for the Saturday afternoon match at Parc des Princes.
Just Fontaine who scored a record 13 goals during the 1958 World Cup for France, was in the Reims side when they last won the French title in 1962, but the team coached by Hubert Fournier haven’t been beaten in six matches on their climb to fifth.
“We don’t want to lose points against the smaller teams and we have to stay concentrated in order to make our job easier”. continued Gameiro.
Should PSG take maximum points, they will move ahead of Marseille on goal difference before Elie Baup’s team get a chance to potentially regain the lead on Sunday night, when they travel to basement dwellers Troyes.
Marseille’s only defeat this seaaon was on the road at Valenciennes but they have not lost at the Stade de l’Aube since 2002.
Third-placed Lyon are a point behind PSG and will be strong favourites to take maximum points against a Brest side in the clutches of a four-game losing skid at the Stade Gerland.
‘Gones’ coach Remi Garde has been boosted by the return to training of former French player of the year Yoann Gourcuff, who has finally overcome a serious knee injury, but he will likely start from the bench for the visit of Landry Chauvin’s men.
Lorient are riding high in fourth as Yoann’s father and coach Christian Gourcuff continues to keep the Britanny club in touch with the leaders, and they put their undefeated start on the line with a trip to eighth-placed Valenciennes.
Defending champions Montpellier are languishing down in 15th spot after a dismal start to their season that has already seen them beaten four times, but there was hopes of a revival during their late Champions League comeback at Schalke in a 2-2 draw.
The trip to Rennes will give them a fresh opportunity to revive their domestic woes.
Elsewhere, Nancy host Sochaux in a key battle at the bottom of the table, Toulouse travel to Evian, Nice play St. Etienne at home and Ajaccio tackle Bastia in the Corsican derby.
A last-gasp effort from Montenegrin defender Marko Basa handed Lille a 1-1 draw at Bordeaux on Friday, the result maintaining the latter’s stalemate syndrome in drawing for the sixth time in nine matches this term.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Paris SG v Reims (1500), Nancy v Sochaux (1800), Valenciennes v Lorient (1800), Evian v Toulouse (1800), Rennes v Montpellier (1800), Nice v St. Etienne (1800
Ajaccio v Bastia (1200), Lyon v Brest (1500), Troyes v Marseille (1900)