Lyon resume title hunt after Cup scare
PARIS, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Olympique Lyon resume the hunt for a seventh consecutive Ligue 1 title when they entertain strugglers Sochaux on Saturday, after worrying their fans in the French Cup.
Lyon, who needed a late free kick from Brazilian forward Fred to knock out fourth division Croix-de-Savoie 1-0 in the Cup round of 32 last weekend, could be tested by opponents badly needing points in their bid to escape relegation.
Sochaux, who lifted the French Cup last season, are second from bottom but have slightly improved since Francis Gillot took over as coach during the winter break, picking up seven points from their last four matches.
Lyon, who were held to a 1-1 draw by neighbours St Etienne in their last league outing, are four points clear of second-placed Girondins Bordeaux but their recent form suggested winning the title might not be a formality after all.
Coach Alain Perrin's team could do with a morale boost with their Champions League first knockout round clash with Manchester United later this month fast approaching.
Bordeaux, the only side with a reasonable chance of stopping Lyon, will probably miss goalkeeper Ulrich Rame when they welcome bottom club Metz on Saturday. Rame, the Bordeaux captain, twisted his ankle in training on Monday.
Third-placed Nancy, slowing down after a strong spell, have dropped eight points off the pace and entertain lowly Toulouse on Saturday.
In-form Olympique Marseille could be tested when they visit fourth-placed Nice on Sunday in one of the highlights of the weekend programme.
Ninth-placed Marseille, recovering from a dismal start to the season, have scored nine goals from their last two matches, a 6-1 demolition of Caen in Ligue 1 and a 3-1 French Cup win over Monaco.
The former European champions might have to make to do without playmaker Samir Nasri, who sustained an ankle injury in France's B team's 0-0 draw with the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday.