Marseille desperate to kickstart title bid

August 13, 2007

PARIS, Aug 13 (Reuters) - Olympique Marseille, yet to win or score in their Ligue 1 campaign, have two matches this week to start justifying their tag as Olympique Lyon's most dangerous rivals for the title.

The former European champions, who have done little to excite their fans with two goalless draws in as many games, will visit Valenciennes on Wednesday before hosting Nancy on Sunday.

'The good thing is we're playing every three days at the moment so there's not too much time to mull things over,' defender Laurent Bonnart told reporters.

'We are improving. If we keep believing in ourselves, good results will come soon,' he added.

After purchasing France defender Gael Givet, Algeria midfielder Karim Ziani and Dutch winger Boudewijn Zenden during the close season, Marseille believed they were ready to present six-times champions Olympique Lyon a major challenge.

However, the side has looked anything but title contenders so far, with France striker Djibril Cisse looking clumsy in front of goal and playmaker Samir Nasri still short of form after recovering from an ankle injury.

'We're still settling in,' midfielder Benoit Cheyrou said.

'We need a bit of time for the new players to fit in but we'll get better, for sure.'

The only good news for Marseille is that Lyon, who are not playing on Wednesday because their scheduled opponents Racing Lens are involved in UEFA Cup preliminary round action, are also struggling.

The champions have already lost a game, slumping to a 1-0 defeat at Toulouse on Saturday, and have both goalkeeper Gregory Coupet and defender and captain Cris facing months on the sidelines with knee injuries.

Girondins Bordeaux, relying on their trademark rock-solid defence, have meanwhile won their first two matches and share the lead with Le Mans and Nancy, the only other teams on maximum points.

Bordeaux, now coached by former France defender Laurent Blanc, will host Le Mans on Wednesday while Nancy will entertain Nice on Thursday.

Lyon will be back in action on Saturday, away to Lorient, who thrilled their fans on Saturday with a 2-1 win over Monaco.