The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION
5 things to know about the French league ahead of this week's matches
PARIS - Five things to know about the upcoming French league matches:
Paris Saint-Germain has problems in defence with Thiago Silva set to be out for several weeks after pulling his hamstring in Sunday's 1-1 draw against Monaco, and coach Laurent Blanc is sweating on the fitness of fellow centre half Alex for the trip to play Valenciennes.
"It's always the same when you have injured players, they're always in the same position," said Blanc, who may pair 19-year-old Marquinhos and fourth-choice centre back Zoumana Camara on Wednesday.
Blanc could end up regretting selling France centre half Mamadou Sakho to Liverpool. But 19th-place Valenciennes has worse problems at the back, having conceded 11 goals in six matches — the most of in the league — including four goals against Nice on Sunday.
Leader Monaco's resilient performance in Sunday's 1-1 draw at Paris Saint-Germain offered encouraging signs that the newly-promoted side can challenge big-spending rival PSG for the French title.
Monaco coach Claudio Ranieri, who has also managed Chelsea, Juventus, Valencia and Roma, edged the tactical battle against PSG counterpart Laurent Blanc by cleverly reshuffling his side after it had conceded a goal in the fifth minute.
Ranieri said at the start of the season that he was eyeing third place, but may now be aiming higher.
"I think it's too early," he said. "I will wait until we get to the halfway point in the league and then I will say."
100 REASONS TO STAY
A familiar but welcome sight for Lyon fans was Bafetimbi Gomis peeling away in delight after scoring for Lyon in the 3-1 win against Nantes on Sunday.
That ended a terrible run of six games without a win, during which Gomis was largely absent after falling out with club president Jean-Michel Aulas. He wanted to sell Gomis, but the France striker did not want to go and was banished from the side.
Now Gomis is looking ahead.
"I've moved on. I spoke to the coach and with the president, we will work together hand in hand," the 28-year-old Gomis said. "I have an objective in mind: reaching 100 goals in Ligue 1. I will do everything to get there and help Lyon finish as high as possible this season."
If he scores at Ajaccio on Wednesday it will be his 90th topflight goal.
PRESSURE ON GIGNAC
Marseille forward Andre-Pierre Gignac started the season brightly by scoring in three consecutive games but has not found the net in his past four matches.
He remains coach Elie Baup's first-choice striker but Saber Khalifa is pushing to take his place. They both scored 13 league goals last season, although Khalifa, who is the quicker player, played six less matches and got the goal of the season with a stunning strike from behind the halfway line.
Baup has a dilemma as fourth-place Marseille hosts third-place Saint-Etienne on Tuesday.
Lille spent much of the off-season trying to block free-scoring winger Florian Thauvin's move to Marseille, before finally selling him for 15 million euros ($19.8 million).
Observers predicted Lille would struggle for goals without Thauvin's pace and creativity, so fans will be relieved to see striker Nolan Roux returning. He scored two clinical goals Saturday in his first appearance of the season and will be looking for more against Evian on Tuesday.
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