Runaway PSG looking to avoid complacency
PSG's Edinson Cavani celebrates after scoring a goal during their French Ligue 1 match against Olympique de Marseille, at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, on March 2, 2014 - by Thomas Samson
Laurent Blanc's league leaders eased to a 2-0 victory against Marseille in the Classique at the Parc des Princes in their last outing to move onto 64 points -- a record tally at this stage of the season -- and open up a gap of eight points to nearest rivals Monaco.
Apparently too strong for their domestic opponents, the club from the capital could be forgiven for focusing all of their attention on the Champions League, in which they defend a 4-0 lead against Bayer Leverkusen going into the second leg of their last-16 tie next Wednesday.
Nevertheless, coming into the trip to Corsica to face a Bastia side who are ninth in the table but have won just one of their last five Ligue 1 outings, Blanc has refused to admit that a second consecutive title is secure.
"It's not up to me to confirm or deny that. I think it's better to be in our situation than that of our pursuers," said the 48-year-old.
"There are still a lot of points to be taken. We have a good number of points, but we need more. It's not over.
"Some people will say that if there is too big a gap we will start to lose focus. There is no easy solution. But we have managed to distance ourselves from our rivals and we are not going to complain."
Blanc, who was sweating on the safe return of many of his players from international duty this week, will be without Edinson Cavani for the game.
The striker, who returned from more than a month on the sidelines with a thigh injury to score against Marseille, was allowed to go back to his native Uruguay for personal reasons this week.
"Cavani will not play. He will undoubtedly only get back (to France) on Saturday," admitted Blanc. "Of course we'd like him to be there but it's not the case."
Second-placed Monaco entertain relegation-threatened Sochaux as they bid to get back to winning ways following their 2-0 loss at Saint-Etienne last time out.
Claudio Ranieri's side are now hoping to secure the automatic Champions League qualification that comes with finishing runners-up as soon as possible, but they can ill afford to underestimate Sochaux, who have won three and drawn two of their last six matches to keep alive their chances of an unlikely great escape from the drop.
"Some people think it will be easy against Sochaux, I think the opposite. I have the feeling that this team is going to stay up," said Ranieri, before adding that captain Eric Abidal will miss the game at the Stade Louis II having briefly been admitted to hospital at the start of the week after taking the wrong flu medication.
"Eric Abidal is not quite ready for Saturday. It's the same for Aymen Abdennour, (but) Dimitar Berbatov has improved physically and he will be able to start."
Lille, in third, face a stiff test at home to Montpellier, who have not lost in nine Ligue 1 games, while Saint-Etienne, who are a point off the Champions League places, travel to Lorient later on Sunday.
Lyon go to Bordeaux on Sunday night, but Marseille were not happy about having to play host to south-coast rivals Nice on Friday.
The game is taking place just 48 hours after a clutch of OM players were in action for their countries in Wednesday's card of international friendlies.
Marseille are seeking revenge for a 5-4 defeat to Nice in the French Cup in January, but they will also have to do without top scorer Andre-Pierre Gignac due to suspension.
Fixtures (kick-offs 1900GMT unless stated)
Marseille v Nice (1930)
SC Bastia v Paris Saint-Germain (1530), Guingamp v Evian TG, Monaco v Sochaux, Nantes v AC Ajaccio, Toulouse v Reims, Valenciennes v Rennes
Lille v Montpellier (1300), Lorient v Saint-Etienne (1600), Bordeaux v Lyon (2000)