Problems pile up for Marseille after first loss

October 27, 2008

PARIS, Oct 27 (Reuters) - Olympique Marseille had been hoping to visit lowly Nantes as Ligue 1 leaders on Wednesday (1800 GMT) but instead head there with plenty of worries.

The former European champions would have gone top with a home win over arch-rivals Paris St Germain but they lost 4-2, suffering their first league defeat of the season.

Still second and now two points behind seven-times champions Olympique Lyon, Marseille failed to bounce back four days after a 2-0 defeat at PSV Eindhoven left them facing an early Champions League exit.

Marseille coach Eric Gerets, whose team have conceded six goals from their last two outings, has defensive problems to solve, but not just that.

The Belgian also needs to address the issue of temperamental France forward Hatem Ben Arfa, who was left out of the starting line-up for Sunday's match and refused to warm up when told to do so.

Gerets, however, tried his best to stay positive.

"We were hoping to go top and nearly did so but we're still second and still in a position to achieve our goals," he told reporters.

"We were unhappy but I liked the mentality my players showed," he added. "And I don't think our defence was bad. All the goals came from set pieces."

The consolation for Marseille is that Lyon have endured a run of three league matches without a win before visiting bottom club Sochaux on Wednesday (1800).

"It will be tough against Sochaux," said Lyon coach Claude Puel, who realises winning an eighth consecutive title will not be merely a formality.

"The championship is going to very difficult and we'll have to fight for every point," he told reporters. "We have to keep that in mind."

Lyon's draw combined with Marseille's defeat has contributed to making the championship a tight affair with three teams, Le Mans, Girondins Bordeaux and Toulouse, three points off the pace.

Bordeaux, last season's runners-up, welcome lowly Le Havre on Tuesday