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Football | France

Lyon host defending champs Montpellier



French league leaders Lyon will aim to build on Wednesday's impressive 4-1 demolition of title-rivals Marseille when they host defending champions Montpellier this weekend.

Remi Garde's side returned to the Ligue 1 summit following their midweek victory at Stade Velodrome, a win punctuated by France striker Bafetimbi Gomis' first top-flight hat-trick.

"It's good, I will savour it, but we saw what happened in Toulouse (last weekend's 3-0 defeat) and we have to have humility and perform in the next game against Montpellier, who are never easy to play against," said a buoyant, but grounded Gomis.

Seeking their first title since the last of their seven consecutive triumphs in 2008, Lyon have a two-point lead over chasing Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille but their mettle will be tested in December with trips to Saint-Etienne and PSG also on the fixture list.

"I'm very happy to be top. It's not by chance, if we're there (in first place) we deserve it but there is still a long way to go, and difficult matches on the schedule," said Lyon boss Garde.

Montpellier's dreadful start to the season means their title defence is already effectively over, but Rene Girard's charges are currently enjoying their best run of form this term as they are unbeaten in five league outings.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic's return from a two-match suspension inspired PSG to a 4-0 rout of Troyes last Saturday, but the Parisians' dreams of a domestic treble were dashed in midweek as they suffered an agonising penalty shootout defeat at the hands of Saint-Etienne in the League Cup.

"The result wasn't what we expected, but this performance will give us confidence for the next match," a defiant Carlo Ancelotti said after his side's quarterfinal stage exit.

PSG will turn their focus back to the club's "No 1" objective – a third Ligue 1 title – when they travel to Nice on Saturday.

Victorious in three of their last four league matches, Claude Puel's Cote d'Azur outfit are enjoying a purple patch of form that has fueled their climb to 10th in the table after a barren run of just one win from their opening 10 fixtures.

Meanwhile, Elie Baup's Marseille will look to arrest a string of stuttering recent displays when they are in action at Brest on Sunday.

After starting the campaign with six straight wins, Marseille have subsequently recorded just two victories in eight attempts and dropped to third in the standings.

Fifth-placed Bordeaux will aim to keep pace with the frontrunners at Sochaux, while Valenciennes play promoted side Reims, whose form has tailed off dramatically after an impressive start.

Lille host Bastia in a rematch of Wednesday's League Cup encounter, which the northerners won 3-0 to clinch a spot in the semifinals, as basement side Nancy travel to Evian, who themselves are just one place above the relegation zone.

Saint-Etienne – unbeaten in their last nine league outings – can provisionally return to the top on Friday evening if they beat Ajaccio in Corsica, while Troyes play Rennes on Sunday, as Lorient take on Toulouse.

Fixtures:

Friday

Ajaccio v Saint-Etienne

Saturday

Lyon v Montpellier
Bordeaux v Sochaux
Evian v Nancy
Lille v Bastia
Nice v Paris Saint-Germain
Valenciennes v Reims

Sunday

Brest v Marseille
Troyes v Rennes
Lorient v Toulouse

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