Bocanegra relishing derby clash
St Etienne defender Carlos Bocanegra will not be taking Lyon lightly when the teams go head to head in Ligue 1's Rhone derby this weekend.
On many an occasion in recent years this fixture has pitted Les Verts against a Lyon side which reigned supreme over French football. Saturday night's meeting sees the teams level on 35 points at kick-off - in fifth and sixth respectively - but Lyon have picked up lately after a shaky start to the campaign and Bocanegra knows facing Les Gones is always a test.
The American said: ''They've made up a lot of ground on the back of a great run before Christmas and we only overtook them just this week. The thing is: they're a good team no matter where they are in the table, whether they're first or 15th and at the moment, we're level on points.
''But regardless of league positions, this is the derby and all that gets thrown out the window. I remember playing Fulham versus Chelsea derbies and while Fulham were never favourites, you go out there with a whole different attitude, a whole different game.
''That's what's so fantastic about these derby games. Everything goes out the window and it's just two great rivals toe to toe with all the heated emotions... all of that goes into making these games special.''
Second-placed Paris St Germain will be keen to make amends for last weekend's 1-0 defeat to Rennes when they host third-bottom Lens on Saturday.
France Under-21 left-back Tripy Makonda said: ''We're preparing for the Lens match, looking to make up for our loss to Rennes last weekend. We probably didn't deserve to lose, but we still have to make up for the loss in front of our fans this Saturday.
''I'm expecting a side looking for revenge after the 5-1 cup loss at the Parc des Princes a few weeks ago. Their new coach [Laszlo Boloni] has improved them a lot at the back. They will be really motivated. It's important to win this match to keep pace with Lille and Rennes in the race for next year's Champions League spots.''
Champions Marseille head into the weekend in fourth spot and will look to keep up the heat on leaders Lille by picking up three points at mid-table Sochaux.
OM centre-back Hilton was expected to resume training today following a groin injury, while Lucho Gonzales and Brandao returned yesterday and should be in contention.
In other games on Saturday, bottom club Arles - already 16 points adrift of fourth-bottom Caen - host Montpellier, Caen visit Bordeaux, second-bottom Monaco take on Lorient and Nancy and Auxerre go head to head both looking to pull away from the drop zone.
Lille will still be top of the pile when they tackle Toulouse on Sunday but could have had their advantage cut to two points if PSG triumph.
Goalkeeper Mickael Landreau signed a contract extension to keep him with the Ligue 1 leaders until summer 2014, and said: ''I am very happy for several reasons: not only do I feel good here, but it is also a pleasure to see the club's desire to keep a player over time.
''Of course, I secretly dreamed of this since my arrival. I am in perfect harmony with the project of LOSC. I'm really glad all this happened.''
Also on Sunday, Rennes - currently in third spot, level on points with PSG - will look to continue in the same vein as last weekend when they face Nice while 13th-placed Valenciennes play 10th-spotted Brest.