Ligue 1 heats up as Bordeaux meet Marseille

PARIS - Girondins Bordeaux host Olympique Marseille on Sunday in a game between the champions and their main challengers which could prove decisive for the Ligue 1 title.

Bordeaux, coming off a streak of six wins, top the table with 43 points from 19 games. Another win would give them a 14-point lead over Marseille who are fourth on 32 points, two adrift of Lille and one behind Montpellier with a game in hand.

"Our win at Saint-Etienne last night (Wednesday) in the League Cup last-16 round three days after our qualification for the French Cup last 16 has given us momentum," Marseille coach Didier Deschamps told journalists on Thursday.

"I'm very happy with our performance because we had to come back twice from a goal down and had enough stamina to clinch victory in the 94th minute and also because it's never easy to win a Cup game at Saint-Etienne.

"Of course it will not be the same match nor the same opponents on Sunday. We'll have to raise our game and Bordeaux will be more fresh because they didn't play their midweek game but we'll face them with a lot of ambition."

Bordeaux's Cup game at Le Mans was called off on Wednesday because of snow.

Coach Laurent Blanc was not happy with the decision, saying his team had lost two days of training before a game which could be a decider in the title race.

"A game against Marseille is never an easy one and we could suffer from a lack of match practice particularly as some of our players came back late after the winter break," he said.

Marseille's last win in Bordeaux was in the 1971-1972 season when Marseille won the title. Their last two away games ended in draws, as did the Aug. 30 meeting between the sides at the Stade Velodrome.

On Saturday, Lille will defend their second place at home and try to extend a series of six league wins against Paris St-Germain who are eighth in the standings and were ousted from the League Cup by second division Guingamp on Wednesday.

Unsung Montpellier will host Nice after missing a chance to go second in a rescheduled match they lost 4-0 at Monaco on Wednesday.

Fifth-placed AJ Auxerre will host struggling Boulogne while former champions Olympique Lyon, now 13 points adrift of Bordeaux, will try to forget their disappointing first part of the season at Nancy.