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French Ligue 1

Ligue 1 weekend preview

Lyon goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre fears the January transfer window could undermine the club's push for a first Ligue 1 title since their run of seven in a row ended in 2008.

Last Updated: 25/01/13 at 10:46 Post Comment

Carlo Ancelotti: His side will look to close the gap on Lyon this weekend

Carlo Ancelotti: His side will look to close the gap on Lyon this weekend

Lyon are level with Paris Saint-Germain at the top of the table, with Marseille only one point behind, and they can take the initiative as the first of the three clubs to play this weekend when they face Valenciennes on Friday night.

But Lyon are yet to make any signings this month while PSG and Marseille have both reinforced - Marseille perhaps needing to after the loss of Loic Remy - and instead all the speculation is over who might leave with the club eager to cut costs.

And Vercoutre admits that is playing on the minds of the Lyon squad.

"Everything that happens around certain players - some of our key pillars - can destabilise them," he told L'Equipe. "When they play they are a little less relaxed and that affects the team."

Even so, Vercoutre said he was not surprised that club president Jean-Michel Aulas had publicly repeated his intention to sell players.

"It has become an obligation for the club, we know," he said. "Resources are needed for us to advance and they will come from the sale of players."

Now, Vercoutre is just hoping to make it to January 31 without any significant departures.

"I think the worst is behind us," he said. "But even so it is not always easy to put it behind you when we play. We are still affected by what is said. But magically, on January 31 it will all disappear."

Lyon can pull clear of PSG for 48 hours at least by beating Valenciennes as Carlo Ancelotti's men do not play until their Sunday evening meeting with Lille.

Marseille are away to fifth-placed Rennes on Saturday, where Marseille will have new signing Modou Sougou available while Rennes begin life without key midfielder Yann M'Vila, sold to Rubin Kazan on Wednesday.

The gap between third and fourth is six points, but Nice might be more concerned with those immediately below them as they prepare to face Bordeaux, seventh, on Sunday.

Only one point separates the two teams, and more tellingly, only six separate nine clubs in the battle for the final European place, going all the way down to Montpellier in 12th.

Lorient, seventh, travel to lowly Nancy while Montpellier hosts a Sochaux side fighting to stay out of the relegation zone.

On Sunday St Etienne, eighth, host Bastia, another side just keeping their heads above water.

Of the bottom three, only Reims have the chance to move out of the drop zone this weekend when they take on a Toulouse side whose European hopes have been hit by the expected loss of Moussa Sissoko.

The midfielder was left out of their squad for the Coupe de France loss to PSG last night as he appears close to a move to Newcastle.

Troyes, who like Nancy appear cut adrift at the bottom, take on Brest while two sides just above trouble, Evian and Ajaccio, meet in Annecy.

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