France: Marseille seek another win over Lyon

April 3, 2008

PARIS, April 3 (Reuters) - Olympique Marseille know a home win over runaway Ligue 1 leaders Olympique Lyon on Sunday would be the best way to keep alive their hopes of a Champions League place.

Marseille, who won 2-1 at Lyon earlier this season, could become the first side in this campaign to pick up six points against the six-times champions.

Lyon, nine points clear at the top with seven matches left, and second-placed Girondins Bordeaux, visiting Stade Rennes on Saturday, look poised to fill the top two seats and win direct access to European club soccer's premier event.

Interest therefore focuses on the battle for third place and the ticket to the Champions League qualifying round it offers.

Surprise package Nancy, in third six points behind Bordeaux before hosting troubled Paris St Germain on Sunday, face a challenge from fourth-placed Marseille, three points behind them.

'We're still there, still in the hunt for the Champions League and I hope we'll win our next home match to stay in contention,' Marseille's Ivory coast midfielder Kanga Akale told the club's website.

Marseille, arguably the most exciting Ligue 1 club this season when on song, recovered from a lean spell with a 2-1 win at Lorient last weekend and want to keep going.

'We must focus on a Champions League spot and to do that we need to win matches', Marseille sporting director Jose Anigo told the club's Web site.

'The fight with Nancy will last until the very last match. The most consistent team will win. We have tough matches still to play but Nancy have too.'

Lyon, closing in on their seventh successive title, will probably be without Karim Benzema when they face Marseille at the Velodrome stadium.

The 20-year-old France striker, Ligue 1's top scorer with 17 goals, has only just resumed training after a left knee problem.

Lyon, facing renewed media speculation that France goalkeeper Gregory Coupet might leave them at the end of the season, know what a victory on Sunday would mean.

'A win in Marseille would put us very near to the title,' Lyon chairman Jean-Michel Aulas told reporters. 'But we're not there yet. We need to win four matches to be crowned.'