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Fantasy follow-up: Week 18

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By ESPN Staff

Lyon still struggling despite top spot

PARIS, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Seven-times French champions Olympique Lyon top the Ligue 1 table but they are still struggling to find the right balance before hosting Le Mans on Sunday.

Lyon ended a poor run of form by beating bottom club Sochaux 2-0 on Wednesday after three league games without a win. But uncompromising coach Claude Puel was far from satisfied.

"We face difficulties in every game we play right now. We are experts in making things more complicated for ourselves. This game should have been decided before the interval," he told reporters.

"Maybe we are not cool enough and we should relax a bit," he added.

Ligue 1's leading scorer Karim Benzema relieved Lyon once again with his seventh league goal this season after the break. The France striker had not scored in the league since Lyon's last win, against Nancy, in late September and he missed two good chances in the first half.

"I had to make amends for those missed opportunities because we really needed that win," Benzema told reporters.

Lyon, who lead with 24 points, get into troubled whenever Benzema does not score.

Their depleted defence has conceded seven goals in their last four home games, including a Champions League 2-2 draw with Fiorentina, and Le Mans are keen to exploit their weaknesses. Fifth-placed Le Mans are the best away team in Ligue 1.

By contrast, Girondins Bordeaux moved up to second this week with a 4-0 demolition of Le Havre.

Bordeaux, who are praised for their attacking football and unbeaten in seven league games, reduced the gap behind the leaders to three points.

They visit strugglers Nancy on Saturday (1800) and could pile pressure on Lyon with a fourth win from five games.

"Bordeaux are hunting Lyon now. We feel we can catch up with them," said striker David Bellion, who scored twice on Tuesday.

The hottest game of the weekend should take place at Stade Velodrome, where Olympique Marseille host St Etienne on Saturday, not only because of the rivalry between the two great French clubs.

Fourth-placed Marseille were humiliated at home by arch-rivals Paris St Germain last weekend (4-2) while St Etienne are just two points above the danger zone after a 4-1 home defeat by Lorient on Wednesday.

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