Posted: Thursday February 7, 2013 7:44 AM

Lyon and Marseille need to bounce back to stop PSG

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PARIS (AP) -Lyon and Marseille need to bounce back from last weekend's defeats and find their best form again if either of them is to stop Paris Saint-Germain from waltzing away with the French title.

Marseille has won once in the past four league games, picking up a meager four points from 12 and conceding sloppy late goals from set-pieces, to drop six points behind PSG in third place.

"The team spirit has changed since the start of the season. Now we're capable of losing to anyone,'' Marseille center half Souleymane Diawara said. "There's no one in our team who is a match-winner. We have to work together to get results. Otherwise we won't succeed. ... At the start of the season, everyone was working hard for each other. That's no longer the case.''

Lyon, which lost away to Ajaccio last weekend and drew 0-0 at home to struggling Evian two weeks ago, is three points behind in second spot - having been five points ahead a few weeks ago.

PSG, meanwhile, has won its last three league games and has not conceded a league goal since the 2-1 defeat at Nice two months ago, meaning that goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu is unbeaten for a mammoth 868 minutes. Given that PSG hosts struggling Bastia - which has the worst defense in the league - on Friday, the gap could widen if Lyon fails to beat Lille at home and Marseille does not win at Evian on Sunday.

"I'm disgusted with our (recent) results. But we're still third and close to the top,'' Diawara said. "I'm sure of what I'm saying - we can catch Lyon and Paris.''

But to do that, Marseille needs to rapidly improve in every sector of the game.

Handling errors from goalkeeper Steve Mandanda have cost Marseille dearly in the last two games, but the France No. 2 has not been helped by his defense, which has an alarming weakness when it comes to dealing with free kicks and corners. The midfield has had little impact in recent weeks and striker Andre-Pierre Gignac has often found himself isolated in attack.

"Everyone has to sweep up in front of their own door and that doesn't mean having yet another team meeting. I've had enough of meetings where you always talk about the same things.'' Diawara said. "We've had three of them and each time we've (repeated) the same mistakes. It's on the pitch that you have to react. We have no right to give up after all we've done.''

Team spirit also seems to have been affected at Lyon, with reported disputes between long-serving club president Jean-Michel Aulas and key players like striker Bafetimbi Gomis and midfielder Clement Grenier after publicly declaring during last month's transfer window that his best players were for sale.

But the good news for Lyon is that Lille, the French champion two seasons ago, is in a far worse predicament and has not won a league match this year - losing two and drawing two of its four matches and scoring only three goals since the winter break.

In Saturday's matches, it is: Saint-Etienne vs. Montpellier; Ajaccio vs. fourth-place Bordeaux; Nancy vs. Reims; fifth-place Nice vs. Lorient; Troyes vs. Sochaux, and Valenciennes vs. Brest.

Rennes takes on Toulouse in Sunday's other game.

 
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