Lille defiant as Marseille sight another title

Updated: 29 April 2011 08:46 IST

Rudi Garcia was in defiant mood as Marseille went top of the table for the first time in five months on Wednesday, but the Lille handler knows there is little room for error if they are to stun the French champions to take the title.

Lille defiant as Marseille sight another title

Paris:

Rudi Garcia was in defiant mood as Marseille went top of the table for the first time in five months on Wednesday, but the Lille handler knows there is little room for error if they are to stun the French champions to take the title.

"It was always going to be likely they went top, but what counts now is how we react," Garcia said after Marseille claimed a 4-2 win against Nice to push Lille into second by one point.

"Ultimately, we have to win all our matches. But there are six games left and we will have the chance to be leaders again."

Marseille's timely win moved them top of the table for the first time since November 27, but coach Didier Deschamps has his feet firmly planted on the ground. He says they are taking it one match at a time, starting with their hosting of Auxerre on Sunday.

"It was a hard-fought win, but I'll savour it all the same," said Deschamps.

"It's good to be on top again, better that than being behind. But our advantage might be shaken up on Sunday by Auxerre."

"The important thing is to be there after the final match of the season."

Lille's seemingly vice-like grip on the lead has loosened in recent weeks as the run-in to the title gathers momentum.

They have failed to win their last three games and had they not escaped with a point from their 1-1 draw against Lorient on Sunday, Garcia's side might be in even bigger trouble.

Marseille's victory only underlines a pressing need: for Garcia's unlikely champions-in-waiting to get back to winning ways when they host already-relegated Arles-Avignon on Saturday.

"The important thing for us is to get a win under our belts, starting with Arles-Avignon on Saturday," added Garcia, who could have to do without Moussa Sow after the league's top scorer was diagnosed with tendinitis.

"After that we have to make sure we keep on winning if we are to have a chance of finishing on the podium."

With six matches remaining and 10 points separating Marseille from fifth-placed Rennes, it seems it's all to play for. In reality, it's now more of a three-horse race for the league title.

Any slip-ups on Lille's part, and Garcia's side could find themselves battling Lyon for the runner-up spot -- the second and last direct qualification spot for next season's Champions League.

Lyon boosted their chances of snatching back the title they won seven years in succession (2002-2008) with a 3-2 win over Montpellier on Wednesday, with out-of-favour France midfielder Yoann Gourcuff coming off the bench to score a late winner.

Claude Puel's men head to 13th placed Toulouse on Sunday five points behind Marseille, four behind Lille and with a three-point cushion over Paris Saint Germain.

Some eyebrows were raised when Puel named his starting line-up for Wednesday's match, with late substitute Gourcuff taking the field to jeers and whistles.

Gourcuff has struggled for form as he has not played regularly this season, but despite his setbacks he has faith in Lyon's title-winning credentials.

Talking to L'Equipe daily, the midfielder said: "Marseille are top of the table while the quality of their game is regularly under fire, Lille have had a great season, whatever happens, but haven't won any of their last three games.

"We have an important match Sunday against Toulouse, and I hope we'll keep the momentum going."

Along with Arles-Avignon, who have won only one of their 32 league games so far, Caen and Lens are the other relegation-threatened teams.

Caen travel to 14th placed Nice while Lens enjoy home advantage against Lorient, who sit in seventh place.

Fixtures:

Saturday

Lens v Lorient, Lille v Arles-Avignon, Rennes v Bordeaux, Sochaux v Nancy, Paris Saint Germain v Valenciennes

Sunday

Marseille v Auxerre, Montpellier v Brest, Nice v Caen, Toulouse v Lyon, Saint-Etienne v Monaco

Topics : Marseille Football
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