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Ligue 1 Preview: Jardim plays down title hopes

A 2-1 defeat to Lyon in September's reverse fixture left Monaco second from bottom.

Since then, though, only Hubert Fournier's men have picked up more points than Monaco, who are on a seven-match unbeaten streak in the league, and 12 in all competitions.

Monaco's form has been built on an excellent defence that has not been breached in the top flight since November 29.

However, head coach Jardim is keen to temper expectations and insists that champions Paris Saint-Germain remain the team to beat, with Lyon and Marseille genuine challengers.

"It's going to be difficult," he told Ligue 1's official website ahead of the encounter at Stade Louis II.

"Paris is the number one. Marseille and Lyon have a favourable fixture list. They also have quality squads. So they have a chance."

Lyon - who are without injured top scorer Alexandre Lacazette against Monaco - have also proved stern in defence and have not conceded in their past five matches.

Fournier's men are top by four points and seeking an eighth consecutive league victory, but full-back Christophe Jallet has warned the squad not to get ahead of themselves.

"For the moment, what is happening to us is exceptional," he said. "We just have to keep our feet on the ground so as to not get carried away, and try to keep our little cushion of a lead for as long as possible."

PSG have the chance to crank up the pressure on Lyon as they start off the weekend's action at home to Rennes on Friday.

Recent history shows Laurent Blanc's men will have to be wary of another upset, though, with Rennes having won 2-1 on their last two visits to the Parc des Princes.  

Second-placed Marseille host lowly Evian on Saturday seeking a swift response to a 2-1 defeat at Nice last time out - their third loss in five Ligue 1 matches.

Saturday also sees bottom-of-the-table Metz host Nice, while fellow strugglers Lens and Toulouse are at home to Bastia and Reims.

Montpellier will attempt to boost their hopes of European football by winning at Lorient, and Nantes face Lille.

On Sunday, Caen will hope to escape the bottom three but face a tricky task against UEFA Champions League hopefuls Saint-Etienne, while Bordeaux play Guingamp.