Lyon face Marseille in battle of the Olympiques
PARIS, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Olympique Lyon's supremacy in French soccer will face a rare major test when the French champions host Olympique Marseille on Wednesday.
'A match between the two Olympiques is always a gala game,' Lyon and France goalkeeper Gregory Coupet said.
'Marseille are one of our last rivals. They want to stay in the race and we don't intend to lose at home. It's a good recipe for a great game.'
Lyon's Ligue 1 match against the only French club to have won the European Cup comes at a time when they are surfing on a wave of success.
The champions, chasing un unprecedented fifth consecutive title, have dominated the first half of the season, building a 12-point lead over their closest opponents, AJ Auxerre.
They qualified unbeaten for the Champions League knockout phase and cruised through the early rounds of the French Cup.
They have been spared by injuries and will only be deprived of one player, Senegal defender Lamine Diatta, by the African Nations Cup in Egypt starting on January 20.
Marseille will lose five players to the tournament, Senegal's Habib Beye and Mamadou Niang, Nigeria's Taye Taiwo and Wilson Oruma and Ivory Coast's Abdoulaye Meite at the end of the week.
They are seventh in the Ligue 1 standings although only three points adrift of Auxerre and ended the first half of the season with a run of eight games without defeat.
'To face Lyon is a great challenge. We have nothing to lose. If we win it will be quite a feat, if we draw it will be a good performance,' said defender Frederic Dehu.
Marseille won their match at Gerland during the 2003-2004 season and drew there last season. The teams also drew 1-1 in their last meeting at Marseille's Stade Velodrome in August.
Auxerre visit Girondins Bordeaux on Wednesday and third-placed Paris St Germain travel to Toulouse on Thursday.