Previews: Marseille fans warned of Paris dangers

PARIS - Olympique Marseille fans will be in "real danger" when the Ligue 1 title contenders visit arch-rivals Paris St Germain on Sunday, authorities in the Marseille region said.

Clashes between supporters erupted in the centre of Marseille after their first encounter of the season was postponed last October only hours before kick-off due to swine flu cases in the PSG squad.

Twenty people were injured and 18 were arrested. Five Marseille fans were later sentenced to jail terms.

French authorities fear a repeat of the violence when the Provence side, who are fifth, six points behind leaders Girondins Bordeaux, visit PSG at Parc des Princes.

Around 1,500 Marseille fans are expected to come to Paris and they will be allowed to travel only under reinforced police surveillance.

"They have to understand that all those measures are taken in their best interest and to protect their integrity. They are in real danger as some PSG fans want to try and assault them," prefect of Marseille region Michel Sappin told reporters.

"We've gathered very specific information and there is a risk of ambushes and clashes. Whether Marseille fans comply with security measures or they stay at home... they will have to deal with some people who are out of control at Parc des Princes," he added.

PSG did not respond directly to Sappin but club chairman Robin Leproux said everybody should avoid "extreme statements" in order to ease tensions.

FRUSTRATED FANS

Paris fans are frustrated by their side's disappointing season. They are only 12th on 33 points in the 20-team table after snatching only their first win in Ligue 1 this year against Toulouse last weekend.

Marseille, by contrast, are back in the title race after four wins in their last five outings in Ligue 1. Their confidence has also been boosted by captain Mamadou Niang going top of the scoring charts thanks to a hat-trick last weekend.

"We're collecting points and we'll see where we are early in April. We've been more consistent in our results since the start of the year and that is how Bordeaux widened the gap during the first part of the season," Marseille coach Didier Deschamps told reporters after last weekend's 3-1 home win against Nancy.

Bordeaux top the standings on 51 points before they visit Le Mans, who are third from bottom, also on Sunday.

Coach Laurent Blanc said he felt reassured by Tuesday's 1-0 win at Olympiakos in a Champions League last-16 first leg after his side had suffered a drop in form in recent weeks.

"I had told the players this game provided us with a great opportunity to show we were still a strong side and we'll have to play at the same level until the end of the season," Blanc told reporters.

Second-placed Montpellier will move level on points with Bordeaux if they beat Stade Rennes at home on Saturday.

Lille, third on 47 points, host Auxerre on Sunday.