Ligue 1 preview: Sanchez keeps Marseille in hot pursuit of PSG
Alexis Sanchez has no intention of letting Paris Saint-Germain ease to another Ligue 1 title after helping drag Marseille back into a position from where they could yet catch their bitter rivals.
His double in a 2-1 win at Reims and PSG's first home league defeat in two years before the international break saw Marseille close to within seven points with 10 games to play.
Sanchez, who netted his 51st Chile goal against Paraguay midweek, has led Marseille's push to stay the course in the league following a bitterly disappointing French Cup quarterfinal loss to second-tier Annecy.
"I really want to stay, but I want to win," Sanchez, who joined Marseille from Inter Milan in August on a one-year deal with the option for another season, said recently.
"I'm not here to finish second, third, or fourth. I play to be a champion and to win titles."
"I didn't come here for a holiday in the sun. I'm here to win and make people happy," he added.
Sanchez is Marseille's top scorer with 12 league goals this term, seven of which have come in the past 10 games for Igor Tudor's side.
Marseille could cut PSG's lead to four points with victory over Montpellier on Friday while also keeping Lens at bay in the race for the second automatic Champions League berth.
But Tudor insists Marseille's hopes of overhauling PSG are largely beyond their control.
PSG's title to lose
"If they (PSG) want to win, they win," Tudor said in an interview with French sports daily L'Equipe.
"Then there is (Kylian) Mbappe. I have huge respect for (Lionel) Messi, who for me is the best player in the history of football."
"Neymar is very strong as well, but today Mbappe is the best in the world and the team is not at all the same without him," he continued.
"We beat them when he wasn't there (in the cup). Then, with him, and with a different motivation on their part, they won. They always decide.
"It's a tough league where you have to fight for every point. We'll try to win everything and we'll see where it takes us."
Montpellier are on an excellent run themselves, having picked up 16 points from a possible 18 since the reappointment last month of former boss Michel Der Zakarian.
Lens on Saturday visit a Rennes side that remains in the hunt for a top-three finish, with fourth-placed Monaco at home to an improving Strasbourg on Sunday.
Laurent Blanc returns to the Parc des Princes as a coach with Lyon for the first time since leaving PSG in 2016, having led the club to three successive Ligue 1 crowns.
Lyon are struggling down in 10th place and their season hinges on how they fare in the French Cup, where they will face holders Nantes in the semifinals next week.
"We're not far from disaster. It's a difficult season at all levels," Blanc said following a 1-1 league draw at home to Nantes in their last outing.
One to watch: Habib Diallo
After the disappointment of missing out on selection for Senegal's World Cup squad, Diallo has knuckled down and scored a number of crucial goals to lift Strasbourg out of the drop zone.
Eight of his 14 Ligue 1 goals have come since the World Cup in Qatar, his most recent in a 2-0 win over Auxerre after missing a penalty earlier in the game.
Diallo, Strasbourg's record signing from Metz in 2020, is having his best season in the top flight - forcing his way back into the national team for Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers - and will be pivotal to his club surviving relegation.
1: Wins for Troyes since September. They are winless in 11 matches and three points from safety.
13: Matches Nice have gone unbeaten since Didier Digard was named coach in January.
- Marseille vs. Montpellier
- Auxerre vs. Troyes
- Rennes vs. Lens
- Lille vs. Lorient
- Angers vs. Nice
- Brest vs. Toulouse
- Clermont vs. Ajaccio
- Nantes vs. Reims
- Monaco vs. Strasbourg
- Paris Saint-Germain vs. Lyon