PARIS - Girondins Bordeaux host surprise package Montpellier in a top-of-the-table Ligue 1 clash on Sunday knowing they must keep up the momentum as they struggle to cope with the pressure of battling on three fronts.
The champions, who ended Olympique Lyon's seven-year reign last season and enjoyed a nine-point lead before Christmas, still top the table on 51 points with two games in hand but are only ahead of promoted Montpellier on goal difference.
The postponement of their last two league games, run to the League Cup final against Olympique Marseille on March 27 and return leg of the Champions League last 16 tie with Olympiakos, which they lead 1-0, means they face a gruelling schedule.
They are also being chased by improving Lyon and Marseille with the former have recovered their winning touch after a disappointing first half to the season.
Lyon could even reclaim top spot with a win at second-bottom Boulogne on Saturday and are confident they can play a leading role until the end of the season.
"I always said we could only play better. We are going through a very good phase and some people could be on for a big surprise," international defender Jean-Alain Boumsong told reporters after Lyon beat Nice 2-0 last weekend.
It was their seventh game without defeat - including six wins - since the winter break helping them climb from sixth spot, 13 points off the pace, on December 23 to third place and within two points of the leaders.
"This sequence of good results has brought us confidence but we have to keep up the rhythm until the end of the season," said coach Claude Puel.
Marseille, fourth on 48 points after three straight wins, host ninth-placed Lorient on Sunday full of confidence after beating FC Copenhagen in the last 32 of the Europa League and thrashing arch-rivals Paris Saint-Germain 3-0 away last weekend.
PSG are now 12th on 33 points and in crisis after one of their fans suffered a life-threatening head injury in a fight between rival groups of supporters before Sunday's kick-off.
Chairman Robin Leproux said on Tuesday that "a new level of urban guerrilla warfare" had been reached and has ordered the club to stop selling tickets to supporters for away games.
PSG visit Racing Lens, also with 33 points, on Saturday.comments