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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 7, 2006

Ligue 1: PSG close ranks before trip to Lyon

PARIS, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Troubled Paris St Germain, who visit Ligue 1 leaders Olympique Lyon on Sunday, have closed ranks before their trip to the true capital of French soccer.

The team will set up camp in the French Alps city of Aix-les-Bains from Thursday to prepare for the game and no fans or reporters will be allowed near the players.

'It's a wise decision that will help ease the tension weighing on the club at the moment,' said PSG midfielder Albert Baning.

'We need all our energy to finish the year well,' Cameroonian Baning told the club's website.

'We have important dates ahead, starting with the match against Lyon. A good result would be a relief for the whole club.'

PSG, experiencing their worst start to a season, lie a miserable 14th in the 20-strong division, 26 points behind leaders Lyon.

The capital club are facing a crisis off the pitch after the death of a PSG fan following last month's 4-2 UEFA Cup defeat by Hapoel Tel Aviv.

A policeman shot dead 25-year-old Julien Quemener and injured another fan outside Parc des Princes while under attack from supporters shouting racist insults after the Nov. 23 game.

Paris mayor Betrand Delanoe has threatened to stop funding PSG unless effective measures are taken to rid the club of hooliganism.

Lyon, by contrast, are trouble-free. They have won all but two of their 16 league games so far and had made sure of winning their Champions League group even before hosting Steaua Bucharest in their final match on Wednesday.

PSG, the French Cup holders, have lost their last two matches against Lyon -- in the pre-season Champions' Trophy and in a League Cup tie -- but played well enough for Lyon not to take them lightly.

'There is a feeling that we could take revenge because we didn't deserve to lose those two matches,' said Baning. 'I hope luck will be on our side at last.'

With Lyon firmly on course for a sixth consecutive title, interest is focusing on the battle to finish runners-up.

Second-placed Racing Lens visit Toulouse on Saturday and third-placed Lille host St Etienne on Sunday.

Northerners Lens underlined their claim to finish runners-up with a convincing 3-0 win over Girondins Bordeaux last weekend.

'That was probably our best match this season but we still have plenty of work to do,' Lens coach Francis Gillot told reporters.

'Being second now means nothing. What we want is to still be in that position after the last round of matches.'