- Associated Press - Thursday, December 18, 2014

PARIS (AP) - While many expected Paris Saint-Germain to reign supreme this season, the race for the French league title has turned into a three-team contest.

Ahead of this weekend’s final round of matches before the winter break, the defending champion trails Marseille by one point, with Lyon just two points behind them.

Pessimism is growing among PSG fans before Montpellier’s visit to the Parc des Princes on Saturday. The team is not playing well, and Montpellier has lost only two of its last five trips to Paris. The Mediterranean side also overcame the big-spending club to win the French title in 2012 on a budget of $45 million.

After claiming an eighth consecutive home win last week, seven-time champion Lyon travels to Bordeaux, and Marseille hosts Lille on Sunday.

Here are some things to know about this weekend’s matches:



At least for now, PSG coach Laurent Blanc is more concerned with his players’ attitude than their results.

The former France coach got some respite with a 3-1 win at Ajaccio in the League Cup midweek but is under growing pressure after back-to-back defeats against Barcelona in the Champions League and Guingamp in the league. Both mishaps have cruelly exposed PSG’s lack of concentration and fighting spirit.

“In a team there are leaders and, when it’s not going the way you want, these leaders and also the coach, of course, they have to raise their game to ensure that the collective do, too,” Blanc said.

PSG has been enjoying possession a lot this season but is struggling to create chances.

“We were better last year,” midfielder Thiago Motta said. “We had a lot of the ball, but we knew exactly what we wanted to do with it, and what we needed to do with it to put our opponents in danger. With or without the ball we were playing more as a team.”


Despite extending his contract with PSG until 2019 a few weeks ago, promising midfielder Adrien Rabiot has been linked with a move to English Premier League side Tottenham during the winter transfer window.

According to L’Equipe, Tottenham officials recently met the 19-year-old Rabiot’s mother to discuss a possible move to Spurs.

Rabiot, who has been nurtured by PSG, has a tense relationship with coach Blanc, and has been involved in just four games this season.


Goalkeeper Geoffrey Jourdren sees similarities between his Marseille and the 2012 Montpellier team that beat PSG to the title.

“I can see us in this team, both offensively and defensively. They don’t concede and score a lot, the same way we did with Olivier Giroud,” said Jourdren, who won the title alongside the France striker before his departure to Arsenal.

Marseille, which lost at Monaco last weekend, has the league’s best attack, and only three teams have conceded fewer goals than Marcelo Bielsa’s side.


Up-and-coming Bordeaux striker Thomas Toure has signed a new four-year deal that should keep him at the club until 2019. The 20-year-old Toure, who has scored twice and delivered four assists in 15 games, was reportedly on Marseille radar.

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