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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Aug, 7, 2008

Lyon start bid for eighth successive French title

PARIS, Aug 7 (Reuters) - French champions Lyon hope to get their quest for an eighth successive Ligue 1 title off to a good start when they host Toulouse on Sunday in the opening round of the season.

Lyon, who lost to Girondins Bordeaux on penalties in the French Champions Trophy final last Saturday, start their league campaign against a club who surprised them early last season by beating them 1-0 with a last-minute goal.

New manager Claude Puel will expect his players to improve on Saturday's lacklustre performance against Bordeaux, last season's runners-up.

Bordeaux begin by hosting Caen on Saturday, with the home crowd eager to see if new faces Yoan Gouffran and Yoann Gourcuff are ready to make an instant impression.

Olympique Marseille are another team with ambitions to be title contenders this term. "The hunting season is open," Marseille sports director Jose Anigo said ahead of Saturday's kickoff against Rennes, while coach Eric Gerets told Reuters: "I want titles."

If they are to challenge for the crown however, Marseille will need a better start than last year's when they earned only seven points from nine matches.

Paris Saint Germain will be determined to make amends for their abysmal run last season when they narrowly escaped relegation. They enter the season with winger Ludovic Giuly and midfielder Claude Makelele both in the treatment room.

The two new signings, recruited to revamp the side, could miss the club's opener at Monaco.

Last year's surprise packages Nancy, who finished fourth, will face Lille, while once great Saint-Etienne, back on the European stage via the UEFA Cup, go to Valenciennes.

Le Havre, France's oldest professional club, will test their top-flight credentials against Nice.

Auxerre are at home to Nantes, promoted Grenoble travel to Sochaux and Lorient visit Le Mans.

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