French Ligue 1

More to lose than points for Lyon in Paris

April 22, 2009

Olympique Lyon could have a lot more to lose than three points if defeated at home by Paris St Germain in Ligue 1 on Friday.

The seven-times French champions could fall outside the top three in the standings and put their chances of participation in next season's Champions League in jeopardy.

The top two teams in Ligue 1 qualify for the Champions League group stage while the third-placed team have to go through the preliminary third round.

"If we finish second or third, it will not cost anything to the club. But if we do not qualify for the Champions League, there will be a gap of 20 to 25 million euros ($25-32 million)," club president Jean-Michel Aulas told local daily Le Progres earlier this week.

"However, even if we are seventh, we will face up to the situation. It will just be harder to attract top players."

Lyon are third in the standings, four points behind leaders Olympique Marseille and only one above PSG with six matches remaining.

"Our chances to be champions again have dropped but it is not over yet," said Aulas, whose team have played in Europe's premium club competition every year since the 2000-01 season.

"It could be an another story if we beat PSG and Marseille lose at Lille. I do not think we have lost our title yet. I am still confident.

"The PSG game comes at the right time. If the players show the same spirit than against Bordeaux, then I must believe it is possible," he added.

Last weekend, Lyon put up a big fight at Bordeaux but were beaten 1-0 after an Alou Diarra first-half goal.

Lyon are expected to be at full strength at the Parc des Princes while PSG will have to make do without midfielder Clement Chantome, who has a thigh injury.

Marseille, who won their last five games and are unbeaten away from their base in almost three months, travel to sixth-placed Lille on Sunday (1900).

Second-placed Girondins Bordeaux, who are two points adrift of Marseille, will play the League Cup final against Ligue 2 side Vannes on Saturday and will therefore have a game in hand.

At the other end of the standings, once great St Etienne, who are 18th, visit eight-placed Nice, who have nothing to win or lose on Sunday.

Eight-times champions Nantes, 16th, travel to 15th-placed Nancy and Sochaux, who lead St Etienne only on goal difference, host Valenciennes, who are 14th.