Paris Saint Germain's resurgence will be tested to the full this weekend when Paul Le Guen's side have the unenviable task of hosting champions Lyon in what is being billed as a Parc des Princes 'clasico'.
PSG are on a roll, notching up their third win inside a week against Le Havre last weekend, with prolific striker Guillaume Hoarau grabbing his eighth goal of the campaign.
Lyon defender Cris is relishing the away day trip to the French capital and the prospect of taking on Hoarau and company.
"Hoarau has a real talent, he's a player who works a lot, a true battler. I'll have to keep him in my sights, even if he's not the only one we'll have to keep tabs on."
Assessing the nature of the task facing PSG in Paris on Saturday Cris added: "They're climbing up the table and have quite a few solid and experienced players.
"I love playing at the Parc des Princes, the atmosphere there is not bad at all. And of course PSG v Lyon is a little special - a 'clasico'."
Reflecting on Lyon's latest step towards what would be their eighth straight title, last Sunday's 2-1 win over title contenders Bordeaux, Cris said: "It was a magnificent victory against a very strong rival."
Christmas may still be weeks off but Marseille were in generous mood when Eric Gerets' men conceded a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to Lorient last weekend in what is being regarded in some quarters as a turning point in the 2008-2009 season.
But Cris cautioned against believing Lyon had as good as wrapped up yet another title.
"We haven't won it yet," the shaven-headed back told French sports daily L'Equipe.
"It's still far too soon to believe that, especially as this season the table is a great deal tighter than it's been in the last few seasons."
While Lyon came out of the last round of matches with a seven point lead, a mere three points splits second-placed Marseille and PSG in eighth.
And Cris reflected: "Marseille, Bordeaux, Rennes, Toulouse, Nice, PSG all have reason to feel ambitious."
Lyon midfielder Jeremy Toulalan is doubtful after picking up a thigh injury in Wednesday's France friendly against Uruguay while teammate Fabio Grosso is also an uncertain starter after suffering a leg problem on duty with Italy.
At the Velodrome, Marseille will be hoping to turn a page against Lille after what Gerets' labelled their "catastrophic' implosion last weekend.
Down at the foot of the table there is an air of crisis hanging over Valenciennes, the bottom club who host second from bottom Sochaux with only one thing on their minds - to halt their run of 11 games without a win.
Sochaux welcome back their skipper Stephan Dalmat after a four-match suspension.
Occupying the third relegation spot are Saint Etienne who crashed 3-0 at Lille last weekend just days after the arrival of former Lyon coach Alain Perrin.
"We're going to need to work, to find concrete solutions to help the players regain their confidence. It will come through working," said the new man in charge of the ailing former European big hitters.
'Les Verts' face a tricky assigment with a visit from fourth-placed Nice.
Elsewhere high-flying Rennes, in third, one point adrift of Marseille, are away to Bordeaux while Toulouse will be anxious to keep their minds on the job right to the whistle against comeback kings Lorient.
Saturday (1800GMT unless stated)
Grenoble v Le Havre
Lorient v Toulouse
Saint Etienne v Nice
Bordeaux v Rennes
Caen v Auxerre
Valenciennes v Sochaux
Paris Saint Germain v Lyon (2000)
Sunday (1600 GMT unless stated)
Nantes v Nancy
Monaco v Le Mans
Marseille v Lille (2000)
Date created : 2008-11-22