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Football | France

PSG focus back on Ligue 1 'crisis'



Paris Saint Germain turn their focus back to the more mundane matters of a faltering Ligue 1 campaign on Saturday, just days after securing their ticket to the glamorous Champions League knock-out rounds.

An Ezequiel Lavezzi double clinched the Parisians a place in the last 16 with a 2-0 win over Dynamo Kiev in the Ukrainian capital, just days after a home loss to nine-man Rennes saw the big-spenders fall off top spot in Ligue 1.

This week Carlo Ancelotti's side are counting on a more straightforward task as they look to keep in touch with leaders Lyon and second-placed Bordeaux at home against promoted Troyes, second-from-bottom with just one win from 13 games.

Ancelotti's side are two points behind Lyon and a point adrift of Bordeaux, but the Italian was encouraged by what he saw in Kiev.

"We showed a great attitude in Kiev, we must now show the same spirit against Troyes," said Ancelotti.

Without a win in their last three league matches his demoralised squad have also been given a boost by their success in the elite European competition with a match to go against Portuguese giants FC Porto.

"We're satisfied with this win," said midfielder Blaise Matuidi. "It's been 17 years since Paris have played in the Champions League knock-out round."

Ligue 1 competition is fierce with just five points separating the top eight as Saint-Etienne and Valenciennes go head to head in Friday's early game in a match where a win would put either side on top.

Both sides have 22 points from 13 games and the winner will take not only three points but provisional lead ahead of Lyon on goal difference.

"It's an additional challenge," said Saint-Etienne coach Daniel Sanchez.

Lyon, who pulled ahead after a 3-0 win over promoted Reims last weekend, travel to midtable Toulouse on Sunday, as stumbling champions Montpellier, sitting just 14th, face a difficult task as they look to put their Champions League loss to Arsenal behind them at home to high-flying Bordeaux.

Meanwhile, fourth-placed Marseille, 1-0 losers to Bordeaux last weekend, can finally count English midfielder Joey Barton among their ranks after seeing out his suspension, when they host Lille, four spots below them.

Barton, on a year loan from Queens Park Rangers, had to sit out nine Ligue 1 or League Cup matches in France of a 12-match ban after being found guilty of two charges of violent conduct while playing for QPR.

The Lille match will be an important clash for Marseille, who after a stunning start to the season with an historic six straight victories, have taken just five points from a possible 18 for their last six matches.

Elsewhere Rennes look to build on last weekend's heroics in Parc des Princes back home in Brittany against third-from-bottom Evian, Nice travel to Sochaux as tailenders Nancy host strugglers Ajaccio whose fellow Corsicans Bastia host Lorient.

Fixtures

Friday
St-Etienne v Valenciennes (1945)

Saturday
Paris Saint Germain v Troyes
Nancy v Ajaccio
Sochaux v Nice
Bastia v Lorient
Reims v Brest
Rennes v Evian

Sunday

Montpellier v Bordeaux
Toulouse v Lyon
Marseille v Lille

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