Seven-time French champions Lyon head to league leaders Bordeaux Sunday for a psychologically decisive match after a run of just one win in seven games.
AFP - French league leaders Bordeaux welcome Lyon to the Stade Chaban-Delmas on Sunday knowing that victory would take them eight points clear of their title rivals at the top of the table.
Both clubs have qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League, but Bordeaux's league form is much better and with the winter break approaching they have a prime opportunity to deal their foes a timely psychological blow.
The reigning champions recovered from a first home defeat in over two years against Valenciennes to record back-to-back wins at Nancy and at home to Paris Saint-Germain, but Lyon have just one win in their last seven league matches.
Lyon, the dominant side of the decade who won seven straight titles between 2002 and 2008, warmed up for the clash with a 4-0 Champions League win over Hungarian side Debrecen in mid-week, but coach Claude Puel rejected suggestions his team were in need of a lift.
"It's not a question of relief or of being reassured or I don't know what," said the former Lille manager.
"The previous matches are out of our system and we're concentrating on the games ahead. Now, with Bordeaux, we change the register and the competition. We'll have to recover well for the match on Sunday."
Laurent Blanc was able to field a second-string XI for Bordeaux's final Champions League assignment, a 1-0 win at Israeli outfit Maccabi Haifa.
The first-team stars are expected to return on Sunday, with midfielder Yoann Gourcuff set to play despite having missed training on Wednesday with toothache.
Lyon will likely be without their France international winger Sidney Govou, who was forced off with an injury in the 29th minute of their victory at home to Debrecen on Wednesday.
Govou hurt himself in the build-up to Bafetimbi Gomis's 25th-minute opener and was replaced by Bosnian starlet Miralem Pjanic, who stands by to deputise.
Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris required stitches after a clash of heads with Debrecen's French striker Adamo Coulibaly but his injuries are not thought serious enough to jeopardise his participation against Bordeaux.
Second-placed Montpellier, who spent the last five seasons in Ligue 2, could close to within a point of Bordeaux at the head of the standings if they win at Toulouse on Sunday afternoon.
Bottom side Grenoble, who picked up their first win of the season at home to Toulouse last weekend, visit Sochaux, while PSG hope to have Turkish striker Mevlut Erding back from a knee problem for the visit of Saint-Etienne.
Sunday (1600GMT unless otherwise stated)
Monaco v Lille, Paris Saint-Germain v Saint-Etienne, Sochaux v Grenoble, Toulouse v Montpellier, Lyon v Bordeaux (2000GMT)
Date created : 2009-12-13