FC Girondins de Bordeaux are on course to clinch their first French title in ten years on Saturday evening, but like then Olympique de Marseille, now 17 seasons without a major trophy, are ready to pounce if they slip.
In 1998/99 Bordeaux went into the last day a point ahead of OM and sealed their fifth championship with a 3-2 victory at Paris Saint-Germain FC. This time Les Girondins are three points clear of OM and require just a draw at SM Caen, who themselves need to win to make sure of avoiding relegation. Marseille's visitors Stade Rennais FC, meanwhile, are battling for a UEFA Europa League slot.
Although they have not won at Caen in nine visits, Bordeaux are confident they can clinch an unprecedented treble of league, French League Cup and French Super Cup, and become the first side to win eleven straight Ligue 1 fixtures. They have already equalled AS Saint-Etienne's record of ten from 1969/70, a run which included a defeat of Olympique Lyonnais that effectively ended Les Gones's bid for an eighth consecutive championship. "We just need to start the game in Caen with the intention of making it eleven," said goalkeeper and captain Ulrich Ramé, the only survivor from Bordeaux's 1998/99 squad. "That will be our motivation at kick-off, though that could change during the game."
Boasting the newly-crowned French players' Ligue 1 Player of the Season, Yoann Gourcuff, Laurent Blanc's Bordeaux are at full strength except for suspended right-back Matthieu Chalmé. "We must not go for a draw because we don't know how to," warned Gourcuff, who on Thursday completed a permanent move from AC Milan. Our philosophy is to play football and we only play well through good passing, crossing and pressing forward. Hopefully the fact a draw would be enough will not unsettle us."
Marseille would take the title on goal difference if they win and Bordeaux lose and have no option but to go for victory against Rennes. Ligue 1 Coach of the Year Erik Gerets, without suspended Mathieu Valbuena, Lorik Cana and Brandão, said: "As long as we have a chance of winning the title, our job is to give our all." Rennes, who must win if they wish to overhaul PSG or Toulouse FC for a top-five finish and UEFA Europa League berth, have in their ranks former OM players Jérome Leroy and Mickaël Pagis.
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