Deschamps calls for cool heads with Marseilles on verge of title

The ligue 1 leaders Marseilles head into tonight's crucial title match against second-placed Auxerre with their coach Didier Deschamps' call for humility ringing in their ears. Marseilles look set to end years of underachievement by finally winning the French title this year and know their trip to face their closest rivals can all but decide matters.

Victory for Deschamps' side would put them eight points clear and seemingly wrap up their first title since 1992, while defeat would move their hosts to within two points of top spot. "Getting a big head about our success so far would mean that we think that we've already won, that the title will just fall from the heavens," Deschamps, whose side have won their last seven matches, said yesterday.

"We've won nothing yet. If we deserve anything from this season, we will only get it by going after it and constantly demanding the best from ourselves. Whatever you think about Auxerre, they're in top form and their defence is the best in the league. They're full of confidence and deserve their second place; they're not there by accident. Along with us, they're the most consistent side in Ligue 1. But whatever the result, we'll still be in the lead."

Auxerre's captain, Benoît Pedretti, played down pressure on his side as they seek to continue their unexpected title challenge. "We'll have nothing to lose and anything we get from the game will be a bonus," he said. "We have the experience to deal with the media pressure. We don't pay much attention to what is said about us, whether it's positive or negative. That's our biggest strength: we don't get carried away. We know we don't have the quality of Marseilles, Lyons or Bordeaux but on the other hand, we're a very tight-knit group and we have the desire to help each other succeed as a unit."

Bordeaux's unsuccessful title defence slipped to a new low this week as they lost their game in hand, at Valenciennes, 2-0. Laurent Blanc's side are sixth, four points off a Champions League place for next season. Blanc, strongly linked with the France national team job after the World Cup, is at the end of his tether.

"We no longer have the technical, mental or physical force to put our opponents in danger." he said. "You get the impression that our adversaries are playing good matches, with strong individual performances. That was certainly the case for Valenciennes, but it was certainly also due to our weaknesses. We had the right intentions going into the match but as soon as it kicked off, we were shaky. At the moment, we're playing too poorly to really hope for anything.

"The match [against Valenciennes] was like many of the matches since our elimination from the Champions League against Lyons. We missed the boat, and it's hard to take. Is a European place a utopian dream? At the moment, it seems utopian to hope for a win. We need to lift our game."

The Champions League hopefuls Montpellier have been dealt a blow ahead of their home match against Lyons after their captain, Nenad Dzodic, was ruled out for the rest of the season with a thigh injury which sidelined him in January. Dzodic had looked set to return last weekend before a relapse scuppered his comeback plans. Lille head the queue for the third Champions League place and will be hoping for victory at home to Nancy on Sunday.

In Germany, VfL Bochum yesterday followed Hamburg's example by firing their coach, Heiko Herrlich, only days ahead of their most important match of the season. Herrlich, in charge for only 22 league games in his first senior coaching job, was dismissed two days before the relegation candidates visit treble-chasing Bayern Munich. "On the grounds of the sporting nosedive, Bochum have parted company with Heiko Herrlich with immediate effect," the club said in a statement.

Bochum have not won in their last 10 games and have lost seven of their last eight. The youth team coach Dariusz Wosz was named as Herrlich's replacement, becoming the team's fourth coach – including caretakers – of the season. Bochum are 16th in the Bundesliga, the relegation play-off spot, one point ahead of Hanover 96.

Marcel Koller began the season in charge of Bochum but was dismissed and replaced by Frank Heinemann on a caretaker basis. Heinemann was in charge for five games before Herrlich was appointed. Hamburg fired Bruno Labbadia on Monday, three days before their Europa League semi-final second leg away to Fulham.

Steve McClaren's FC Twente can claim their first Eredivisie title on Sunday with victory over NAC Breda.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine