Montpellier must finish job before partying

Montpellier must stay fully focused as they still need one point to secure their first Ligue 1 title, coach Rene Girard warned ahead of their final game at Auxerre, even though fans are already planning a welcome parade.

The Southerners, who are on 79 points, three ahead of second-placed Paris Saint-Germain, will be crowned for the first time since the club was created in 1974 if they get at least a point at relegated Auxerre on Sunday.

If PSG fail to win at Lorient, Montpellier will clinch the title regardless of their result in Burgundy.

Players and fans are already planning to celebrate Champions League qualification with the team riding a double-decker bus to the city's main square on Monday.

Girard said the party would be a success only if they finished the job.

"It's always difficult to keep everybody focused," he told reporters after being named best coach of the season.

"The boys are fully aware that if we want to give our story a proper end, we need to go get this title. Otherwise, something will be missing."

Montpellier will be without suspended playmaker Younes Belhanda, who said this week he wanted to stay at the club next season after having previously considered moving.

In Paris, no party has been scheduled as a Champions League spot was the minimum goal for the Qatari-backed club and players say they still have a small chance of stealing the league crown if they win at strugglers Lorient.

"We know it will not only depend on ourselves but it's soccer, everything is possible," midfielder Blaise Matuidi told the club website.

"We have to throw ourselves completely into the race, as we have done in the past three games. This is our last chance and we must be sure we won't have any regrets," full-back Christophe Jallet said.

Paris will be without suspended winger Jeremy Menez, while centre back Alex and midfielder Mohamed Sissoko are doubtful because of minor injuries.

Lorient, who are 14th on 39 points, one above the relegation zone, will fight to stay in the top flight, along with seven other teams.

Nineteenth-placed Dijon, who are two points from safety, travel to seventh-placed Stade Rennes, who are on 57, one behind fifth-placed Girondins Bordeaux, and are chasing the Europa League qualifying berth.

Girondins, the 2009 champions who recovered from a poor start to the season, are one point ahead of sixth-placed Saint-Etienne whom they visit on Sunday.

"We know it was a long way back. We have to keep our goal in mind because we have not fulfilled it yet," centre back Michael Ciani told the club website.


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