Marseille held to 0-0 draw at Bastia
PARIS (AP) - Marseille's poor run of form continued Saturday when it was held to a gritty 0-0 draw at Bastia in the French league.
Lacking a win in four matches, Marseille was looking to bounce back from Wednesday's 2-1 home defeat to Arsenal in the Champions League but struggled to create chances.
Center-half Lucas Mendes tested Bastia goalkeeper Mickael Landreau with a header from a corner midway through the second half, and the visitors were unlucky not to be awarded a late penalty when substitute Saber Khalifa was tripped by defender Francois-Joseph Modesto.
The draw means that Marseille remains in fourth place and trails leader Monaco by two points and third-place Paris Saint-Germain by one point.
"The first 20 minutes were hard for us and then we started playing better,'' Marseille coach Elie Baup said. "We have to keep working hard. We have a mature team that is capable of facing up to this kind of situation.''
Marseille has little time to rest before hosting second-place Saint-Etienne on Tuesday.
"We have to focus on the next match, even if it's difficult to keep playing matches every 48 hours,'' Baup said.
After starting the season well by scoring in the first three league games, Marseille forward Andre-Pierre Gignac's form has dipped. He is without a goal in four games and Khalifa is pushing for a starting spot.
"I'm confident we will score goals,'' Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda said.
Monaco, which has played a game less, travels to big-spending rival Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday night.
Later Saturday, it's: Evian vs. Montpellier; Reims vs. Guingamp; Rennes vs. Ajaccio; and Sochaux vs. Lille.
In Sunday's other games, it's: Lorient vs. Bordeaux; Lyon vs. Nantes; and Nice vs. Valenciennes.
But all eyes will be on the match at Parc des Princes as two of the biggest spenders in European football face each other.
Owned by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, promoted Monaco spent about 170 million euros ($230 million) this summer.
Monaco and PSG, which is owned by Qatar Sports Investments, are the only teams still undefeated.
PSG, which is two points adrift of Monaco and one behind Saint-Etienne, spent more heavily last season but was more frugal than Monaco this summer, committing 114 million euros ($154 million) to buy striker Edinson Cavani, 19-year-old center half Marquinhos and left back Lucas Digne.
Monaco signed Falcao from Atletico Madrid in a deal estimated to be worth 60 million euros ($79 million), while Cavani cost 64 million euros ($84 million) in the fifth most expensive transfer in history.
So far, Falcao has scored four league goals while Cavani has found the net twice. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, last year's top scorer in the French league with 30 goals, has been quiet so far and has found the net just once.
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