Crisis-hit Lyon desperate to arrest slump
Struggling Lyon will attempt to halt their alarming dip in form away to Toulouse on Saturday as the pressure mounts on Bruno Genesio following a run of five defeats in six matches.
Lyon lurched into crisis mode after crashing to a 3-1 home reverse against Guingamp last weekend, and it won't get any easier against a Toulouse side that has been rejuvenated under Pascal Dupraz.
"We're going through a difficult period. We must rediscover our confidence. Lots of things are linked to that. We have to keep working together," Genesio told the club's in-house television channel.
Captain Maxime Gonalons was seen remonstrating with unhappy supporters after Lyon's latest defeat, their second already at Parc OL this season, and admitted the current outlook at the club was troubling.
"The situation is serious, very serious even," said Gonalons. "We understand the unhappiness of the fans but we're in the same situation. It's worrying and we must get back on track."
Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas set the team a target of 31 points by the winter break, a demanding assignment for a side beaten five times in 10 outings with games against Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco still to come.
Alassane Plea's hat-trick ensured Nice remained four points clear at the top, and coach Lucien Favre is set to welcome back Mario Balotelli for Sunday's visit to Nantes after the Italian sat out the 4-2 win at Metz through injury.
The Ligue 1 leaders have also raised more than 120,000 euros ($130,000) for the victims of July's Bastille Day truck massacre in the city after auctioning off a commemorative kit that bore the names of those killed in the attack.
PSG coach Unai Emery backed midfielder Marco Verratti to return to his best after the Italy international's stroppy reaction to being substituted in Sunday's 0-0 draw at home to Marseille that left PSG six points behind Nice.
"I'm happy with Marco. He's important for the team. The way I manage him is the same as the others," said Emery, whose side visit Lille on Friday.
"He started (pre-season) later so it's important to look after his physical state. Now, he has to improve as we move forward and I'm sure he will."
- All change at Marseille -
PSG go to Basel in the Champions League next Tuesday and would provisionally move up to second, above Monaco, with a victory at the Stade Pierre Mauroy this weekend.
Monaco could have Portugal midfielder Joao Moutinho back for Saturday's trip to Saint-Etienne, but Leonardo Jardim will also have an eye on Wednesday's European tie at home to CSKA Moscow.
Rudi Garcia will take charge of Marseille at the Stade Velodrome for the first time in Sunday's game against Bordeaux.
American owner Frank McCourt continued his overhaul of the nine-time French champions on Thursday with the appointment of former Spain and Barcelona goalkeeper Andoni Zubizarreta as the club's new sporting director.
Zubizarreta carried out the same role between 2010 and 2015 at Barcelona and helped the Spanish champions lure Neymar and Luis Suarez to the Camp Nou.
Bottom side Lorient are still searching for a new manager after Sylvain Ripoll was sacked last weekend in the wake of their latest defeat.
Former Montpellier and Rennes boss Rolland Courbis had been close to taking over but was forced to rule himself out of the job after being unable to free himself from contracted media work.
Fixtures (all times GMT)
Lille v Paris Saint-Germain (1845)
Toulouse v Lyon (1500), Bastia v Dijon, Guingamp v Angers, Lorient v Montpellier, Nancy v Caen, Saint-Etienne v Monaco (all 1800)
Nice v Nantes (1400), Rennes v Nantes (1600), Marseille v Bordeaux (1945)
© 2016 AFP