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Lyon under pressure

Latest update : 2008-04-19

With five games to go, League 1 leader Lyon stay this season's favorites. But Bordeaux, trailing by just four points are fast catching up. Star striker Karim Benzema say the title-holders "don't have the right to surrender [their] lead".

PARIS - Olympique Lyon resume their chase for a first League and Cup double when they visit strugglers Racing Strasbourg in Ligue 1 on Saturday.  Lyon have failed to shine lately but have done enough to near a seventh successive league crown and qualify for the French Cup semi-finals.

"The Cup is important for us but we also badly want a seventh title, which is the club's number one goal," France striker Karim Benzema told reporters after scoring the winner in a 1-0 French Cup quarter-final win over Metz on Tuesday.

The measure of all things in France for years, Lyon have never won the league and Cup titles in the same season, a feat last achieved by Auxerre in 1996.

Lyon, featuring in the French Cup last four for the first time in 10 years, are four points clear of second-placed Girondins Bordeaux with five matches left in Ligue 1.

They have suffered lately, however, drawing 1-1 at home with Stade Rennes in the league before struggling to move past bottom Ligue 1 side Metz in the Cup.

"It's true that the team look out of breath," Lyon chairman Jean-Michel Aulas told reporters. "I don't know whether it's a physical problem or a mental one."

The good news for Lyon is that Benzema returned to action last weekend after two weeks on the sidelines with an ankle injury.

Bordeaux, who have not given up their slim title hopes, visit lowly Toulouse on Sunday.

"There's still quite a gap," said Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc. "To make it , we would have to win all our matches and we would also need Lyon to lose twice."

Olympique Marseille, fighting to hold on to third place and a ticket to the qualifying round of the Champions League, welcome mid-table Lille on Sunday.

At the other end of the table, Paris St Germain need points from their trip to Caen on Saturday in their battle against relegation.

The Parisians, who have never left the top flight since their promotion in 1974, are third from bottom.

Date created : 2008-04-19

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