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Floundering giants Marseille and Lyon face off

Marseille face Lyon on Sunday in Ligue 1. Photo: Clement Mahoudeau / AFP

Lyon, seven times league champions, sit rock bottom of Ligue 1 as they prepare to play rivals Marseille at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday, with Fabio Grosso’s men desperately seeking their first win.

Marseille have endured their own challenges after an early coaching change and lounge in eighth place, having only won three of their nine league encounters.

Last time out, Marseille fell 1-0 away to high-flying Nice, whilst Lyon’s nightmare start to the campaign only got worse as they went down 2-1 at home to Clermont, replacing them at the foot of the table.

This weekend’s clash reunites two of Italy’s 2006 World Cup winners and recently appointed Marseille coach Gennaro Gattuso will be plotting to compound his compatriot Grosso’s difficult start to life in the Lyon dugout.

Both men took over their respective clubs in September, replacing Marcelino and Laurent Blanc.

“We have enough matches to climb back up but also the quality to do it as well. Those who don’t believe in it must be put aside,” Grosso said after the loss to Clermont.

“We can’t give up. I’m going to do everything to find ways to get the team out of this situation. I feel we have the ability to do so. 

“I’m trying to give opportunities to players who stand out in training. It’s difficult when the players who get a chance don’t give their all on the pitch.”

At the top end of the table, surprise package Brest will be looking to end their current run of three matches without a win but face an uphill task as they host Paris Saint-Germain.

Brest have slipped down to fifth after two draws and one defeat this month. The Breton club had sat atop the pile after six matches.

PSG rounding into form?

On the other hand, PSG seem to have put their stuttering start behind them and will have designs on putting together three consecutive wins for the first time this season. 

Dependent on Monaco and Nice’s results, a win could also see Luis Enrique’s side jump from third into first place.

League leaders Monaco travel north to take on fourth-placed Lille on Sunday with five points separating the two sides.

Monaco sit one point clear of second-placed Nice, who play away to Clermont on Friday, and the principality side know that a fourth consecutive win will keep them at the summit for another week.

The same fixture last year threw up seven goals as Lille enjoyed a thrilling 4-3 home victory thanks to a brace from Remy Cabella.

The 33-year-old midfielder has not got off the mark this season and a return to the goalscoring form that saw him net seven times last term would be a big boost for the home side struggling for goals.

One to watch: Ismaila Sarr

Big things were expected of the Senegalese winger when he arrived in Marseille this close season from Watford, but even by his own admission he “needs to improve” his form.

Nonetheless, the 25-year-old tops his side’s scoring chart in Ligue 1 with three goals and one assist in seven appearances.

Sunday’s encounter under the lights at the Velodrome against Lyon could certainly be the moment for the new boy to endear himself to the Marseille faithful.

Facing the second leakiest defence in the league with 18 conceded in nine games, Sarr will certainly fancy his chances of adding to his current tally.

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