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 Posted by ESPN Staff
May 12, 2006

Lille chase Champions League ticket

PARIS, May 12 (Reuters) - Lille will chase a ticket to the Champions League when they visit Stade Rennes in their final Ligue 1 match of the season on Saturday.

With a draw in Brittany, the northerners would make sure of holding on to third place to make the third qualifying round of European club soccer's showcase event. The top two in Ligue 1 qualify directly for the Champions League.

The fourth-placed side will join French Cup winners Paris St Germain and League Cup winners Nancy in the UEFA Cup.

The club that finishes fifth will stand a chance of making the UEFA Cup through the Intertoto Cup.

Olympique Lyon, who entertain Le Mans, have already secured a record fifth consecutive title while Girondins Bordeaux, hosting Olympique Marseille, are certain to finish second.

Lille, surprise runners-up last season, are the favourites to finish third since crushing Lyon 4-0 last weekend.

That match stirred controversy, Lyon coach Gerard Houllier having made it easier for Lille by resting several first-choice players.

'My feeling is that we played a good match against a good Lyon side,' said Lille midfielder Mathieu Chalmé.

'Who's on the bench or on the pitch on the other side is not our problem. We had to win and we did. Now we need another good result and we're determined to get it.'

Marseille, in fourth place two points behind Lille, can finish third only if they beat Bordeaux and Lille lose at the same time.

'We want to play in Europe next season and to do that, we have to win in Bordeaux,' said Marseille striker Toifilou Maoulida.

Marseille have not won at Bordeaux since a 2-1 triumph in 1977. Marseille coach Jean Fernandez played in the Marseille team that day.

'Bordeaux were a strong team then already and we were delighted to have won, but we could not imagine that it would be our last win there for so long', Fernandez said.

'Now would be the right time to win there again.'

Rennes, in fifth place just one point below Marseille, can theoretically end up third, but their goal difference means all they can reasonably hope for is fourth place and a UEFA Cup spot.

Ajaccio, Racing Strasbourg and Metz will fill the last three spots whatever the outcome of their final matches and will all be relegated to Ligue 2.