A depleted Olympique
Marseille face another stiff challenge to get back to the top
of Ligue 1 when they host fellow Champions League hopefuls
Olympique Lyon on Sunday.
After a poor start this season, a seven-game winning streak
has put Marseille back on track and fifth on the table, while
another victory would help them leapfrog fourth-ranked Lyon, who
earlier this season sent the 2010 champions crashing to the
bottom of Ligue 1.
Both clubs set up another major game this week when they
qualified for the League Cup final, with Lyon hoping to clinch
their first trophy since 2008 and holders Marseille to win the
trophy for the third time in a row.
But Didier Deschamps' side suffered a big blow when Mathieu
Valbuena was sent off during Marseille's semi-final against
Nice, having already lost the Ayew brothers to the Africa Cup of
Nations and sold playmaker Lucho Gonzalez to Porto in the
last days of the transfer window.
Valbuena, who had made 11 assists in the Ligue 1 season, was
shown a second yellow card for taking a free-kick too fast to be
"I regret the referee's harshness. I know there are rules,
but here the rules are stupidly and strictly applied," a fuming
Deschamps told France Television.
Lyon could miss centre-back Dejan Lovren but captain Cris
was back in action on Tuesday for a League Cup semi-final in
Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain who acquired Inter Milan
midfielder Thiago Motta in the last hours of the transfer
window, host Evian Thonon Gaillard on Saturday.
Motta and Brazilian centre-back Alex, who joined from
Chelsea, could make their debuts at Parc des Princes.
Montpellier, who are placed second three points behind PSG,
will try to keep close with a home game against Stade Brest and
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