Marseille look to stay top of the pile

Didier Deschamps has warned Olympique de Marseille that "winning is difficult, but staying top is tougher" ahead of the start of his side's Ligue 1 defence which begins this weekend.

Marseille coach Didier Deschamps
Marseille coach Didier Deschamps ©Getty Images

After claiming their ninth French title last season – 18 years after No8 – Olympique de Marseille are the team to beat ahead of the start of the new Ligue 1 season this weekend.

OM won Le Championnat for the first time since the 1991/92 campaign last term, taking the crown off FC Girondins de Bordeaux. Having already secured the League Cup it completed a domestic double for Didier Deschamps' side, who were knocked out in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League. "The aim is to keep winning," said Deschamps, whose team begin their defence against promoted side SM Caen on Saturday.

"Winning is difficult in our sport, but staying on top is even tougher," he added. "Our main aim is to be more competitive. The first target we set is to stay in the UEFA Champions League next season, it's very important from a sporting and financial point of view. We cannot challenge the big European sides, the gap is too big." Argentinian midfielder Lucho has loftier ambitions. "We aim to go further in the UEFA Champions League and we definitely aim to retain the French crown."

Spanish Under-21 international defender César Azpilicueta is Deschamps' sole summer signing, while Claude Puel's Olympique Lyonnais, looking to rediscover the formula that won them seven successive league crowns, have added just Jimmy Briand from Stade Rennais FC. AJ Auxerre were last season's surprise package and their reward for a third-placed finish is a UEFA Champions League group-stage berth should they win their play-off.

Bordeaux will be looking to bounce back having lost coach Laurent Blanc to the France national team, with former playing favourite Jean Tigana the man appointed to fill the void. "I'm here to bring back their motivation to win," said the ex-international midfielder. Paris Saint-Germain will be another side looking to upset OM's plans having been active in the transfer market. Brazilian Nenê has joined from AS Monaco FC and Mathieu Bodmer has arrived in the capital from Lyon.

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