Champions League semi-finalists Monaco return to the business of
attempting to win their first French league title since 2000 with
a tricky visit to Lyon on Sunday.
By that time Leonardo Jardim's young stars may well have been
knocked off top spot in Ligue 1 by reigning champions Paris
Saint-Germain, who will be fully expected to overcome mid-table
Montpellier at home 24 hours earlier.
Nice must beat Toulouse away if they are to stay in the mix in
what is a three-way battle at the top.
Monaco, who have hit a staggering 141 goals in all competitions
this season and have one of Europe's brightest young talents in
striker Kylian Mbappe, are top from PSG thanks only to a hugely
superior goal difference.
They each have 77 points, with Nice on 73, but Monaco have one
game in hand as the season enters the final stretch.
Mbappe, 18, scored again on Wednesday to set Monaco on their way
to a 3-1 second-leg quarter-final victory over Borussia Dortmund
in the Champions League.
Their exploits in the Europe's elite competition have put the
likes of Mbappe and midfield talents Tiemoue Bakayoko and Thomas
Lemar in the shop window, but Jardim is eager not to let that
distract Monaco on the home front.
"It's normal to prefer to win the Champions League," he said
after Monaco added Dortmund to a list of victims in Europe that
includes Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur.
"But it's more difficult than winning the (French) championship,
we're going to try to push to the limit in both competitions."
Benjamin Mendy, the 22-year-old left-back who also has admirers
across the continent, said that while Europe's biggest clubs were
circling over Monaco's young assets, their collective spirit
should not be underestimated.
"We are a very close group, we all want the same thing, we
flourish together, and that's reflected on the pitch," the French
It is hard to know what kind of Lyon -- fourth in Ligue 1 with a
game in hand -- Monaco will travel to on Sunday.
Lyon's Europa League clash last week at home to Besiktas was held
up when fans poured onto the pitch and then their game at bottom
side Bastia was abandoned at half time when home fans twice
invaded the pitch and attacked Lyon players.
- PSG bounce back -
While much of the focus has rightly been on Monaco, PSG have
quietly gone about their business in the league.
Their season threatened to unravel when they capitulated to
Barcelona 6-1 in the Champions League to exit the European stage
But the league holders bounced back impressively, beating Monaco
4-1 in the League Cup final and France's two outstanding teams do
battle again in the French Cup semi-finals next week as PSG chase
a third consecutive clean sweep of domestic honours.
Since the Barcelona nightmare Unai Emery's side have steamrolled
to seven wins on the trot and anything other than victory at the
Parc des Princes on Saturday at home to Montpellier would be a
The weekend action gets under way on Friday when Marseille, who
are on the cusp of a European spot, visit relegation-threatened
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Nancy v Marseille (1845)
Paris SG v Montpellier (1500), Lorient v Metz, Dijon v Angers,
Caen v Nantes, Bordeaux v Bastia, Lille v Guingamp (all 1800)
Toulouse v Nice (1300), Saint Etienne v Rennes (1500), Lyon v