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MARSEILLE

Ex-PSG boss bids for revenge against old club

Ligue 1 action returns this weekend with French Champions Paris Saint-Germain looking to close the gap on Ligue 1 leaders Marseille on Friday night when they face a Lens side coached by a familiar face who will be out for revenge.

Ex-PSG boss bids for revenge against old club
Former PSG coach Antoine Kombouare will be hoping for revenge when his Lens side takes on his old club on Friday. Photo: Jean-Sebastian Evrard/AFP

Paris remain unbeaten this season but six draws in their opening nine games left them in third place over the international break, seven points behind Marseille.

Standing in their way this weekend are Lens and coach Antoine Kombouare, who won a host of honours with PSG as a player in the 1990s and then coached the capital side for two-and-a-half years before being unceremoniously sacked in December 2011 with the team top of the league.

Kombouare would dearly love to get one over his old side, but a Lens win would be a huge shock.

While PSG have become one of Europe's wealthiest clubs under their Qatari owners, Azerbaijan-owned Lens are plagued by huge financial problems and have not been able to sign any new players since winning promotion in the summer.

In addition, refurbishment work at their Stade Bollaert-Delelis means they must play home games elsewhere, so this weekend's match has been moved nearly 200 kilometres to the Stade de France, in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis.

A crowd of around 60,000 is expected for the first Ligue 1 game to be played at the national stadium since 2009, but only a minority will be backing a Lens side in the relegation zone

"I don't like the way we have to work here, I am frustrated, especially for the competitor that I am," said Kombouare.

"But we are in Ligue 1 and I have a motivated group of players. We mustn't forget that we are playing at home, even if it will be in Saint-Denis.

"I hope we don't get thrashed, but frankly we have a lot to lose. PSG will wake up soon, so we need to hope that they don't wake up against us."

Kombouare admitted that he must put any feelings for his old club to one side.

"I would have liked to have stayed but it in some ways it was a relief to leave. I will always be grateful to PSG and will always be a big fan of the club," he said.

"But now we have a game to play and three points to go looking for, so there will be no room for sentiment."

Injury worries

Paris coach Laurent Blanc continues to sweat over the fitness of Zlatan Ibrahimovic (heel) and Thiago Silva (thigh), and while the latter has returned to training after two months out, he remains a doubt for this weekend.

With Marquinhos out and David Luiz picking up a thigh injury playing for Brazil, the champions have problems in defence with a trip to face APOEL in the Champions League to come next Tuesday.

On Sunday, Marseille host Toulouse at the Stade Velodrome chasing an eighth consecutive win. The focus there will be on Andre-Pierre Gignac, the former Toulouse striker who is currently the leading scorer in Ligue 1 and starred in France's friendly win in Armenia in midweek.

Second-placed Bordeaux host Caen, while fourth-placed Lille host Guingamp looking for a boost before they face Everton in the Europa League.

On Saturday, Monaco will be without the injured Dimitar Berbatov as they entertain Evian, who have won three in a row.

Leonardo Jardim's side are 13th in the table, and while they have claimed respectable draws with Zenit St Petersburg and Paris in their last two outings, they could find this match more complicated.

"This season, we have played well against teams who attack and defend at the same time and leave space for us to construct," said Jardim.

"It is harder when our opponents close down the space, sit deep and look to hit us on the break. Especially if they score first."

Fixtures (kick-offs 1800GMT unless stated)

Friday

Lens v Paris Saint-Germain (1830GMT)

Saturday

Lorient v Saint-Etienne (1500GMT)

Lille v Guingamp, 

Metz v Rennes,

Monaco v Evian,

Nantes v Reims,

Nice v SC Bastia

Sunday

Marseille v Toulouse (1200GMT)

Bordeaux v Caen (1500GMT),

Lyon v Montpellier (1900GMT)

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WEATHER

IN PICTURES: How floods and a bin strike left Marseille submerged in waste

Torrential rain hit the city of Marseille in the south of France on Sunday and Monday, just days after local waste collectors ended a week-long strike, leading to fears of "catastrophic" waste making its way to the ocean.

IN PICTURES: How floods and a bin strike left Marseille submerged in waste
A man stands on a beach covered with cans following heavy rains and a strike of waste collectors in Marseille on October 5th. Photo: Nicolas TUCAT / AFP.

Marseille is located in the Bouches-du-Rhône département, which Météo France placed on red alert for heavy rain and flooding on Monday. Schools in the area shut and people were warned not to leave their homes as two months’ worth of rain fell in a single day in the Mediterranean city, after heavy rains had already caused flooding on Sunday night.

The situation was compounded by the fact that uncollected garbage was blocking storm drains in certain parts of the city – drains which would normally be cleared ahead of heavy rain – and making it more difficult for emergency services to intervene.

The city’s waste collectors had begun clearing the streets on Saturday after an agreement between unions and local authorities put an end to an eight-day strike over an increase to working hours.

But rain over the weekend made the monumental job even more difficult, and the result was that “rivers of rubbish” flowed through the city’s streets on Monday.

“Rubbish is everywhere. It’s a catastrophe,” biologist Isabelle Poitou, director of the MerTerre association, told AFP. “We’re expecting a strong mistral wind which will push the rubbish, which is currently making its way towards the sea, onto the beaches.”

“It’s vital to come and clear the rubbish from the beaches on Tuesday or Wednesday,” she added. “We need to act before the rubbish gets scattered in the sea at the first gust of wind.”

A woman collects waste on a beach after heavy rains and following a strike of waste collectors in Marseille.

A woman collects waste on a beach after heavy rains and following a strike of waste collectors in Marseille. Photo: Christophe SIMON / AFP.

The video below tweeted by BFMTV journalist Cédric Faiche shows the state of a beach in Marseille early on Tuesday morning. “It’s been cleaned several times but cans and different types of plastic continue to arrive…” Faiche wrote.

However, Faiche told BFM there are similar scenes every time there is heavy rain in Marseille, even if the strike has made the situation even worse.

Minister of the Sea Annick Girardin shared a video of the “sad scene” captured in Marseille on Sunday night. “Discussions between trade unions and the city must not make us forget what really matters: we are all responsible for our seas and our oceans!” she said.

“It’s unacceptable,” Christine Juste, deputy mayor in charge of the environment in Marseille told BFM on Tuesday, criticising the “lack of reactivity” in collecting leftover rubbish following the end of the strike on Friday.

“Why wait so long? In the 6th arrondissement, there has been no collection since the announcement that the strike was over,” she said.

IN PICTURES: See how the deluge has left parts of France’s Mediterranean coast submerged

The Aix-Marseille-Provence Metropolis intercommunal structure, rather than city hall, is in charge of rubbish collection in Marseille.

On Monday morning, the Metropolis dispatched 650 workers to clear away as much waste as possible ahead of the heaviest rainfall which was forecast for the afternoon.

On Monday evening, Marseille’s Mayor Benoît Payan told franceinfo that 3,000 tonnes of garbage were still yet to be collected in the city. “I asked the Prime Minister this evening to class the zone as a natural disaster,” he added.

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