Lyon look to cap season with historic double

May 22, 2008

PARIS, May 22 (Reuters) - Olympique Lyon look to wrap up a remarkable season with their first domestic double when they face Paris St Germain in the French Cup final on Saturday.

Lyon bagged a record seventh-consecutive league title last weekend while PSG escaped relegation in the last round of matches with a 2-1 win at Sochaux.

Lyon have not won the Cup since 1973 and will be eager to emulate AJ Auxerre as the last team to clinch both the league title and Cup in 1996.

Before Auxerre, only Girondins Bordeaux (1987) and Olympique Marseille (1989) had secured the double since 1980.

'A double is something you cannot forget in your life,' full back Francois Clerc told Reuters.

However, he said PSG would be dangerous opponents and likely to play with more freedom that they had in the relegation battle.

'In a way, the Parisians have experienced the same kind of season than us -- with a lot of stress and a happy ending,' he added.

'They won't have this 'ball and chain' they've had throughout the season.'

Lyon should be almost at full strength with centre back Jean-Alain Boumsong recovering quickly from a groin strain and striker Abdulkader Keita returning to training on Thursday after being out of the squad due to stomach problems.

However, a suspension for Cris means that if Boumsong were to be ruled out, coach Alain Perrin would be forced to include Swiss Patrick Mueller, who has played only one league match this season.

With Switzerland playing a Euro 2008 warm-up game against Slovakia on Saturday, Mueller asked to be released from club duty.

'I've talked to the Swiss coach over the phone yesterday,' Perrin said. 'If Boumsong is fit, we'll release Mueller.'

PSG, who won the League Cup in March, have been tagged as cup specialists. They clinched the League and French Cups in 1995 and 1998, winning 10 from the 13 cup finals they have played in.

They will have to cope without goalkeeper Mickael Landreau and will bid farewell to Portuguese striker Pedro Pauleta, who plays his last match for the club after scoring 76 goals from 168 league games.

'I have good feelings,' said PSG right back Bernard Mendy on the club's website.

'Most important for us was to avoid relegation. Now that it is done, we can end the season with this trophy, which is important for the club, for us and for the fans.'

PSG hope their fans will be on their best behaviour.

The club have been excluded from next season's League Cup after fans unfurled an abusive banner at this year's final