PSG needs to reassert title bid by beating Nancy

JEROME PUGMIRE AP Sports Writer Published:

MARSEILLE, France (AP) -- Paris Saint-Germain's title bid has lost much of its momentum, and doubt is creeping in among the players.

Two consecutive draws against teams outside of the top six in the league, either side of a quarterfinal loss to Lyon in the French Cup, have dented confidence and relegated PSG into second place behind Montpellier on goal difference.

"We're not at our best. Teams have caused lot of problems for us over the last three games," PSG midfielder Mohamed Sissoko said. "We're going through a lean spell, but we have to lift our heads. We only have the league title left now to save our season."

PSG needs to reassert its title challenge with a win at Nancy on Saturday.

Despite spending more than €100 million ($133 million) on players this season, PSG has been unable to dominate teams in recent weeks, needing late goals to salvage draws away to struggling Caen and at home against Bordeaux last Sunday.

"We need to be better prepared mentally, we need to show more composure," Sissoko said. "We need to show we haven't become so bad overnight."

Montpellier is not playing this weekend, giving PSG the chance to move provisionally three points clear at the top.

Amid reports of training ground bust-ups and an angry dressing room tirade from coach Carlo Ancelotti after the 1-1 draw with Bordeaux, Sissoko does not deny that there are tensions within the squad.

"Everyone's aware of the situation and we've all said things to each other," he said. "We have to stick together more."

Sissoko, who had spells with Liverpool and Juventus, thinks the players need to start responding better to Ancelotti's methods.

"Ancelotti came with a lot of ideas, but it's up to us to adapt to them," Sissoko said. "In my opinion, the main reason is that we've lost the ability to attack and defend as a unit. But if everyone pulls together then the title won't get away from us."

Only nine games remain, and a two-way title race still looks likely, but defending champion Lille has not given up hope after winning its last two games 3-0 and 4-0 to pull within seven points of the top two.

With €33 million ($44 million)-rated winger Eden Hazard in mesmerizing form, Lille is in confident mood ahead of Sunday's home game with fourth-place Toulouse.

A victory would keep alive Lille's outside chance of reclaiming its title, and would also open up a six-point gap on Toulouse in the race for third place and a spot in the Champions League qualifying rounds next season.

Lille will be without center half Aurelien Rougerie, who has a thigh injury and is expected to be out for three weeks.

Lyon, which is four points behind Lille in fifth place, is away at seventh-place Rennes on Sunday.

After being eliminated from the Champions League to APOEL Nicosia in a penalty shootout three weeks ago, Lyon has responded with four straight games and confidence has been restored.

"It's a big game for us, we have to keep our run going. To qualify for the Champions League we'll need to win our away games," Lyon central defender Samuel Umtiti said. "Rennes have some very good forwards and we'll have to be careful against them."

Also Saturday, it is: Auxerre vs. Valenciennes; Bordeaux vs. Dijon; Lorient vs. Evian; Saint-Etienne vs. Nice, and Sochaux vs. Brest.

Caen faces Ajaccio in Sunday's other game.