Marseille chase much-needed win over St Etienne
MARSEILLE, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Olympique Marseille will be chasing a much-needed victory against an in-form St Etienne on Friday to avoid losing more ground in the race for Europe.
Marseille, hampered by the absence of their injured winger Franck Ribery, have won just two matches from their last 10 league outings.
With one game to go before the midseason break, they lie seventh in the 20-team table, trailing second-placed Racing Lens by five points and leaders Olympique Lyon by 22.
'We have little choice but to win our home games because we are pretty poor when we play away,' coach Albert Emon said.
'This match could be a turning point. After it the guys will be allowed some time to rest and get rid of the mental pressure.'
Following a flying start to the season when they won five matches in a row, Marseille lost their way and slumped to four consecutive defeats.
Djibril Cisse, who was out of action for six months after breaking his leg, hopes he will rediscover his form quickly and spur his team to victory.
'A win would help us cut the gap over the first three sides in the standings. It would be a good thing before the winter break,' on-loan Liverpool striker Cisse said.
'We want to avoid falling too far behind. Our goal is still to finish in the top three. I didn't come here to twiddle my thumbs. I have ambitions and want to win the title.'
Marseille will also want to avenge a 4-1 thrashing by St Etienne in the last 16 of the League Cup two months ago.
St Etienne, third in the table after the 3-0 win over Valenciennes last week, are enjoying their best start to a season since returning to the French top flight in 2004.
Les Verts were hugely disappointed after they were eliminated 1-0 by Girondins Bordeaux in the League Cup quarter-final on Tuesday.
But coach Ivan Hasek said his team were focused on the task ahead.
'We must try to recover as soon as possible,' Hasek said. 'We have an important match on Friday and nobody wants to give it away.'
Olympique Lyon host Monaco at Gerland stadium on Saturday while troubled Paris St Germain travel to Troyes.