Olympique Lyonnais will not have time to dwell on their stunning 3-0 UEFA Champions League win against Werder Bremen as local rivals AS Saint-Etienne visit the Stade Gerland on Saturday looking for revenge.
Les Verts were beating the Ligue 1 pacesetters 2-1 with two minutes remaining in October, yet still managed to lose 3-2. It was a sign that this once-prestigious derby is back on the football map, much to the delight of Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas. He said: "I've always wanted St Etienne to be strong because the better they are, the better we have to be to stay ahead."
Lyon are ahead of everyone at the moment, with a six-point lead over Olympique de Marseille, but will be deprived of suspended midfielder Mickaël Essien, as well as injured defenders Claudio Caçapa and Anthony Réveillère. Their opponents have no such worries and are unbeaten in 13 games, although goalkeeper Jérémie Janot is not getting carried away. "
Lyon own a palace whereas we're still trying to build a house," he said.
Marseille will hope to punish any slip-up when they welcome basement club FC Istres on Sunday. Philippe Troussier's side are looking for a fourth consecutive victory and midfielder Laurent Batllès believes they have become serious title candidates. "We're getting closer to Lyon all the time and we're determined to finish what we started," he said. The visitors will be full of confidence, though, having shocked AJ Auxerre with a 1-0 win last weekend.
Fifth-placed Auxerre bounced back from that with a stunning 3-1 triumph against AFC Ajax yesterday, and their next test is at home to Toulouse FC. Meanwhile, their next opponents in the UEFA Cup, LOSC Lille Métropole, will try and end a run of four draws at home to Stade Rennais FC. Eliminated from Europe by Olympiacos CFP, FC Sochaux-Montbéliard entertain FC Metz in Sunday's other match.
AS Monaco FC have their own European disappointment to exorcise when they travel to OGC Nice on Saturday. The fourth-placed club lost 1-0 at PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday, but need to focus on reducing the nine-point gap between them and Lyon. Also on Saturday, Paris Saint-Germain FC face SC Bastia behind closed doors as punishment for crowd trouble, AC Ajaccio meet RC Lens, FC Nantes Atlantique play RC Strasbourg and SM Caen visit FC Girondins de Bordeaux.
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