Mar­seille eye Euro­pean re­turn

New Straits Times - - Sport -

PARIS: With Monaco, PSG, Nice and Lyon guar­an­teed to fin­ish in the top four in France’s Ligue 1, the re­main­ing point of in­ter­est is be­tween Mar­seille and Bordeaux, bid­ding for the fi­nal Europa League spot.

Cham­pi­ons Monaco and run­ners up PSG are in the Cham­pi­ons League group phase, Nice in the third qual­i­fy­ing round, Lyon are in the Europa League while a point sep­a­rates fifth-placed Mar­seille and Bordeaux in sixth.

Mar­seille have been re-gal­vanised since be­ing bought by Amer­i­can busi­ness­man Frank McCourt last Oc­to­ber as new coach Rudi Gar­cia has brought a sense of pur­pose to a team who drew 1-1 with Bordeaux in their penul­ti­mate game last week.

“There are no cal­cu­la­tions nec­es­sary, we need to win our last match and hope Mar­seille slip up,” Bordeaux mid­fielder Younousse Sankhare said.

Mar­seille take on sec­ond bot­tom Bas­tia but Mar­seille coach Gar­cia has no sym­pa­thy for the Cor­si­cans.

“I’ve been ham­mer­ing it into the play­ers since the Bordeaux game, we need to fin­ish the job. Bas­tia will do us no favours,” he said.

“But we are fifth, and if we qual­ify for the Europa League this will be a totally un­ex­pected turn­around.”

Star striker Dim­itri Payet misses out through sus­pen­sion, but Flo­rian Thau­van goes into the game boosted by a France in­ter­na­tional re­call.

Bordeaux also host a rel­e­ga­tion threat­ened side in Lori­ent, who are look­ing to pull off a last-week­end es­cape after drag­ging them­selves off bot­tom spot a month ago.

They are now in the third-bot­tom spot which of­fers a home and away play off with the third placed side in Ligue 2.

Monaco won the ti­tle on Wed­nes­day when an 11th straight league vic­tory bumped them up to 92 points, six ahead of PSG. They can match the cap­i­tal club’s sin­gle-sea­son record of 30 wins in to­day’s fi­nal game at Rennes.

Monaco CEO Vadim Vasi­lyev said on Thurs­day the club’s main ob­jec­tive how­ever was to keep 18year-old striker Kylian Mbappe who has scored 26 goals.

Keep­ing Ligue 1 Coach of the Year Leonardo Jardim may also be a chal­lenge.

“Leonardo Jardim is the per­fect coach for our project,” Vasi­lyev told CNN this week. “We’ve done all this to­gether.”

PSG host Caen to­day with noth­ing to play for after their Cham­pi­ons League de­feat to Barcelona and get­ting pipped to the Ligue 1 ti­tle.

Their Brazil­ian full-back Maxwell ad­mit­ted the club was hurt­ing on Thurs­day.

“You have to con­grat­u­late them (Monaco). Our start to the sea­son pe­nalised us. What hurt us most was the de­feat in Barcelona. It still hurts to­day,” he said.

TO­DAY: Angers v Mont­pel­lier, Guingamp v Metz, Lille v Nantes, Lori­ent v Bordeaux, Lyon v Nice, Mar­seille v Bas­tia, Nancy v Saint Eti­enne, PSG v Caen, Rennes v Monaco, Toulouse v Di­jon. AFP

Mar­seille’s Bafe­timbi Gomis cel­e­brates after scoring against Bordeaux on Sun­day.

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