Paris (AFP) – Rudi Garcia faces a daunting first assignment as Marseille coach with the struggling French giants travelling to bitter rivals and reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 this weekend.
The former Lille and Roma boss has penned a three-year contract at the Stade Velodrome where his task is to resurrect a side that slumped to its worst league finish in 15 years last season.
Two wins in their last three outings lifted OM but Garcia, who succeeds Franck Passi, must end a run of 10 successive defeats against PSG to avoid a losing start to his Marseille tenure.
His appointment, Marseille’s fourth different coach since the start of last season, comes just three days after US tycoon Frank McCourt completed his purchase of the club from Margarita Louis-Dreyfus.
“When I met Rudi, he told me straight away he wanted to win the Champions League,” said McCourt, the Boston-born former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
“I immediately knew he would be the man for the job,” he added.
PSG trail surprise leaders Nice by four points and rode their luck in a 3-0 victory over Basel in the Champions League on Wednesday as Edinson Cavani scored his 17th goal for club and country this season.
Coach Unai Emery admitted his team “need to work to improve” and will look for Angel di Maria to rediscover his best form after the Argentine netted his first goal since April against Basel.
Lucien Favre’s Nice — 1-0 winners at Salzburg in the Europa League on Thursday — will bid to extend their impressive unbeaten run when they visit Metz on Sunday, but they may be without Mario Balotelli who is nursing a thigh strain.
The Italian has scored five goals in four league appearances and Favre is hopeful a few days’ rest will be enough to help his leading scorer recover.
– Lyon out to end skid –
Monaco have a quick turnaround ahead of Friday’s home game against Montpellier after grabbing a late equaliser to earn a 1-1 draw away to CSKA Moscow in the Champions League.
The principality outfit dropped to third following a 3-1 defeat at Toulouse last weekend, but defender Djibril Sidibe isn’t concerned about the team’s form with Monaco close to welcoming back Radamel Falcao.
“It’s certain that playing again Friday gives us little time to prepare, but it’s up to us to do what we need to quickly rediscover that winning feeling,” said Sidibe.
Colombian Falcao hasn’t featured since sustaining a concussion on September 21 but has been included in Leonardo Jardim’s latest squad.
Montpellier suffered a heavy blow with Chad international Casimir Ninga, who had scored five goals in his last two matches, ruled out for six months after rupturing knee ligaments in training.
Alexandre Lacazette missed a penalty as Lyon lost 1-0 at home to Juventus midweek and coach Bruno Genesio knows Saturday’s game against Guingamp is crucial as they try to shake off a run of four defeats in five matches.
“We need to start on a positive series of results and this fixture is very important. (Guingamp) have had an exceptional start to the season and we’ll have to be careful,” said Genesio.
Nabil Fekir is suspended after his red card against Nice, but Lacazette is poised to make his first start in the league since returning from a five-week injury lay-off.
Fourth-placed Toulouse will go in search of a fifth win in six outings away to Angers on Saturday.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Monaco v Monptellier (1845)
Lyon v Guingamp (1500), Angers v Toulouse, Bordeaux v Nancy, Dijon v Lorient, Lille v Bastia, Nantes v Rennes (all 1800)
Caen v Saint-Etienne (1300), Metz v Nice (1500), Paris Saint-Germain v Marseille (1845)
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