Can PSG extend their unbeaten Ligue 1 run?

After a week in which the national team's qualification for the World Cup provided a huge boost to French football, Paris Saint-Germain will bid to extend their long unbeaten run as Ligue 1 returns.

Can PSG extend their unbeaten Ligue 1 run?
PSG will be hoping to extend their Ligue 1 lead over Lille when they take on Reims on Saturday. Photo: Franck Fife/AFP

The capital club, who come into the weekend four points clear of Lille at the top of the table, travel to Champagne country to face Reims on Saturday afternoon.

They have a score to settle with Hubert Fournier's side after losing 1-0 at the Stade Auguste-Delaune last season, although remarkably they have not lost in the league since that match on March 2, a run of 24 games.

Indeed, the capital club have not lost any of their 18 matches in all competitions this season, but Saturday's opponents are in formidable form themselves.

Reims have lost just once in 13 matches, a run that has seen them beat Lille, Lyon and Marseille, and draw with Monaco, while they also knocked the principality club out of the League Cup.

They come into the weekend in sixth position and Fournier is hoping his side can spring another surprise.

"We need to make sure we have no regrets at the end of the game," he said. "If a little window opens, we need to enter it. We must believe we can cause an upset."

Their chances of doing so may be helped by the fact PSG's preparations have been hindered by the late return from international duty of numerous players.

Record signing Edinson Cavani was not due to return to France until Friday morning after helping Uruguay qualify for the World Cup in a play-off against

Jordan and coach Laurent Blanc admitted that he is likely to be rested.

While some members of his squad – including Blaise Matuidi, who helped France beat Ukraine in remarkable fashion in their decisive World Cup play-off – will be on a high, others had a less enjoyable experience playing for their countries.

That was the case for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, whose Sweden side missed out on a place in Brazil after losing to Portugal.

"I would have been happier had Zlatan qualified for the World Cup with Sweden, (but) now we need to try to fulfil our objectives at club level, and I know that Zlatan's personal aims are high. That will help ease his disappointment," Blanc said.

"You can expect changes to the team," he added. "(But) those who have stayed here during the international break do not necessarily have a greater chance of playing the next game."

Conditions are likely to be tricky, with temperatures in France having plummeted in recent days, and Blanc is not taking anything for granted.

"They will be especially motivated and we expect a difficult game. We have not been able to prepare in the best possible manner.

"I am afraid of them, just as I am afraid of any team. Another thing that concerns me at the moment is the weather because pitches are not going to be in great condition. Our philosophy is based on playing football, and to do that we need a good pitch."

Elsewhere, second-placed Lille entertain Toulouse on Sunday looking to extend a run of eight games without losing or even conceding a goal, while Nantes, in fourth, face third-placed Monaco.

Two of France's most famous clubs, both were promoted back to Ligue 1 in the summer, but while big-spending Monaco were expected to compete near the top of the table, Nantes have surprised observers with their impressive form.

Les Canaris have lost just once in seven outings and a win will see them leapfrog Monaco on goal difference, with Claudio Ranieri's men having won just one of their last four.

Fixtures (kick-offs 1900 GMT unless stated) 


Ajaccio v Marseille (1930 GMT)


Reims v Paris Saint-Germain (1600 GMT), Evian-Thonon-Gaillard v Lorient,
Lyon v Valenciennes, Montpellier v Guingamp, Rennes v Bordeaux, Sochaux v


Lille v Toulouse (1300 GMT), Nice v Saint-Etienne (1600 GMT), Nantes v
Monaco (2000 GMT)

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


‘Not football’s job’ to combat homophobia: French football chief

The head of French football has pulled away from a hardline stance against homophobic chanting and banners in stadiums on Friday, saying that "too many matches" have been stopped due to anti-gay abuse.

'Not football's job' to combat homophobia: French football chief

Noel Le Graet, president of the French Football Federation (FFF), said that the FFF would not instruct referees to stop matches except in cases when a “whole stadium” was guilty of homophobic chanting.

“I think we're stopping too many matches! That makes certain government ministers happy, but it bothers me. Football can't be taken hostage by vulgarity,” said Le Graet in an interview with newspaper Ouest-France.

Several matches have been temporarily halted in France this season after the French football League (LFP) introduced over the summer plans to tackle fan homophobia during matches, including allowing referees to stop games.

“Matches have been stopped when they shouldn't have been,” Le Graet continued.

“We will stop them if there is consistent homophobic abuse from the whole ground, but if among 30,000 people there are 2,000 imbeciles I don't see why the other 28,000 should be punished.”

Le Graet referred to France's sports minister Roxana Maracineanu, who in April launched the appeal for matches to be stopped in the event of homophobic abuse, and equalities minister Marlene Schiappa.

Schiappa publicly praised referee Clement Turpin after he stopped Marseille's 2-1 win at Nice for over 10 minutes last month following sustained abusive chanting and banners from home fans, but Le Graet insisted that it wasn't football's job to combat homophobia.

Paris Saint-Germain's match at Metz two days later was also briefly halted for a banner unfurled by the hosts' supporters asking the French league (LFP) to allow them to aim homophobic chants at PSG.

“Did football invent homophobia? You can be a know-it-all when you have got much to say. But there are more important political issues,” he said.

“This crisis will resolve itself. We will work with club presidents, people who don't stick their oar in every morning, who don't want to just look good in front of the television cameras.”