Lyon seek reassurance before busy spell

November 21, 2007

PARIS, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Olympique Lyon will seek a morale boost before a busy schedule when they visit Stade Rennes on Saturday in the highlight of weekend Ligue 1 action.

The six-times French champions are three points clear at the top but worried their fans with a 2-1 home defeat by strugglers Olympique Marseille in their last match.

After a two-week break because of international action, they now face seven matches in four weeks until the winter break, among them two Champions League games they must win to make sure of reaching the knockout stage.

The first of their last two Group E fixtures is at home to Barcelona on Tuesday and beating Rennes would be the best way to warm up for it.

Fourth-placed Rennes will also be desperate to make up for a 3-0 crushing by Girondins Bordeaux in their last match.

The team from Brittany appear to be slowing down after a strong run of form and have gone five matches without a win.

Rennes can turn to recent history for inspiration, having won 1-0 the last time Lyon visited them, but will not be able to rely on former Lyon forward Sylvain Wiltord, who is sidelined with a calf injury.

As ever since the start of the season, Lyon will pin their hopes on young scoring machine Karim Benzema, who has found the net 11 times in 14 matches.

The weekend programme will also see second-placed Nancy, a surprise package relying on exactly the same squad as last season, host northerners Lille while third-placed Bordeaux will travel to lowly Caen.

Marseille, whose young playmaker Samir Nasri appears to be recapturing his brilliant best after fitness worries, should continue their recovery at the expense of bottom-placed Metz.