Montpellier know it's now or never to pip PSG to title
James Mariner is a journalist who has been boring The Independent sports desk with mindless statistics since June 2007. Helping with various, wide-ranging desk duties (I made the tea once), supervising workies and the endless researching of panels, James has an unnatural love of all things football, and in particular the Europa League, being a Tottenham Hotspur supporter. He cites Brian Sears and Ledley King among his heroes and can even find something interesting in Burnley v Hull City. On a good day.
Saturday 12 May 2012
Montpellier president Louis Nicollin has implored his players to keep their focus as they chase their first Ligue 1 title. With wealthy Paris St-Germain set to dominate for years to come, it could mean they are already in the last-chance saloon.
The southern French team lead PSG by three points with two games remaining, and host third-placed Lille tomorrow. They will be champions if they better PSG's result against Rennes.
"It had better be this year because then it is going to be PSG all over the place for seven years – there's no way we'll avoid this," Nicollin said. "I'm so stressed out. We could be eighth, comfortable, having secured our place in the top flight. It's stressful because we need to avoid third place and that annoying Champions League play-off. Second would be great, but first..."
Montpellier must take to the field without midfielder Younès Belhanda, linked with a move to Manchester City, as revealed in The Independent this week. The 22-year-old is suspended following his involvement in a brawl during a Ligue 1 game earlier this month.
In Italy, Juventus, who were crowned champions last Sunday, host Atalanta looking to become only the third side to complete a whole Italian league season unbeaten. "We have gone 37 games without defeat," manager Antonio Conte said. "We want to go the whole season unbeaten. It would be a historic feat."
Bayern Munich remain confident of beating Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund in tonight's German Cup final, after losing out to the club in the league for a second consecutive season. "I'm absolutely convinced we have the quality to beat them," Bayern midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger said.
In Spain, champions Real Madrid host Mallorca tomorrow seeking the win that will make them the first Spanish club to earn 100 points in a season.
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