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By ESPN Staff
Jan 17, 2013

Big three escape cup pain

Ligue 1's leading trio will be well-placed to strengthen their positions this weekend after largely escaping as African Nations Cup call-ups wreak havoc across the league.

Forty players from the French top flight have been called away to South Africa for the tournament, which runs until February 10.

But while the likes of Ajaccio - deprived of five starting players - and Brest - who will be without three defensive options - count the cost of the tournament, Lyon, Paris St Germain and Marseille have lost only five players between them.

And PSG's two absentees, Siaka Tiene and Mohamed Sissoko, have started only once between them this season and have been linked with moves away this month.

The capital club travel to Bordeaux for the final game of the weekend, with defender Alex expecting a tough test against the fourth-placed side.

"We know it is always difficult to play against Bordeaux," the Brazilian told the club's website.

"They defend very well and are very dangerous on the counter-attack. We will have to stop their counters and play intelligently."

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will wear PSG's number 10 shirt for the first time, having inherited it from the departed Nene. The Swede will continue to wear number 18 in the Champions League.

An enticing set of Sunday fixtures see fifth-placed Nice take on a Lille team only two points behind them in eighth while Rennes, sixth and level on points with both Bordeaux and Nice, travel to Bastia.

Lyon host Evian - whose joint leading scorer Saber Khelifa is away with Tunisia - tomorrow night while Marseille on Saturday face a Montpellier side who are without Morocco's Younes Belhanda.

OM, three points off the summit in third, have defender Souleymane Diawara back in contention after he suffered a minor injury in a collision with Sochaux goalkeeper Simon Pouplin last week.

The midfield pairing of Joey Barton and Benoit Cheyrou will look to continue their fine understanding, with the Englishman today hailing his colleague as "a French Andrea Pirlo".

He added on the club's website: "He is a fantastic player with a very good left foot and he brings a lot to the team."

Elsewhere on Saturday, Sochaux's clash with Reims has been brought forward to 4pm (3pm GMT) due to adverse weather forecast for later in the day.

Ajaccio, shorn of Carl Medjani, Mehdi Mostefa, Fousseni Diawara, Sigamarry Diarra and Chahir Belghazouani, take on Valenciennes while Brest, who can add Kamel Chafni and Jonathan Ayite to the loss of defenders Ismael Traore, Ahmed Kantari and Ousmane Coulibaly, host St Etienne.

Troyes and Valenciennes - who along with Nancy are the only clubs unaffected by African Nations Cup call-ups - travel to Lorient and Toulouse respectively.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report

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