Olympique Lyonnais are aiming to pile the pressure on Olympique de Marseille in the race for UEFA Champions League qualification when they go to bottom side FC Metz on Sunday.
FC Metz - Olympique Lyonnais
Lyon sit fourth in the Ligue 1 Conforama table with seven games remaining, trailing Marseille in third by two points. But with their match at the Stade Saint-Symphorien coming before OM face Montpellier Hérault SC later on Sunday, Bruno Genesio's men have the opportunity to climb above their rivals onto the podium, for a few hours at least.
A podium finish and a Champions League berth will rescue Lyon's season following the disappointment of their premature exit from the Europa League, the final of which will be played at their own Groupama Stadium. Genesio's men also went out of the Coupe de France in the quarter-finals, and doubt has been cast over the coach's future due to their poor form in February and March.
Highlights: Memphis double sinks Toulouse
However, the signs are that Lyon have turned things around. They are unbeaten in six in the league, and have won their last three. After a dramatic 3-2 win at OM just before the international break, they beat Toulouse 2-0 at home last weekend with Memphis Depay scoring twice - he also scored the last-minute winner in Marseille.
"After Marseille's victory at Dijon, we were obliged to win and that can inhibit the players. It wasn't the case and they responded to the occasion," said Genesio after last weekend's game.
He has been busy working with his players in training this week and accepts that Lyon's European exit could benefit them while Marseille are distracted by their Europa League quarter-final against RB Leipzig.
"It is true that we only have the league to focus on, unlike Marseille, and that means we can have full weeks on the training ground," the coach added.
While Memphis is in fine form and now has 12 Ligue 1 Conforama goals this season, 16-goal Mariano Díaz is available to return to the side after suspension. The hope is that skipper Nabil Fekir - who also has 16 league goals - will be back against Amiens SC next weekend.
Metz need wins...
Lyon should certainly have enough firepower against Metz, who have been bottom of the table since the end of August and ended last weekend seven points away from the relegation play-off place, eight from outright safety.
Frédéric Hantz's side are without a win in nine matches in all competitions, even if their only defeat in their last five games came at Paris Saint-Germain.
Highlights: Four goals, two red cards in derby draw
Last weekend, Les Grenats battled to a 2-2 draw at RC Strasbourg in an eastern derby, holding on after Vahid Selimovic was sent off in the second half. That may not be a bad result, but draws are not enough for Metz in their present predicament.
"We have seven matches left and we are going to have to win six of those. It is going to be difficult but we owe it to ourselves to keep believing," said defender Jonathan Rivierez. "We are not losing many matches but we are not winning, so we are not moving forward. We need a win to get us going again."
Metz: Kawashima – Balliu, Diagne, Niakhaté, Rivierez – Cohade (cap.), Mandjeck – Dossevi, Milicevic, Roux – E.Rivière
Lyon: Lopes (cap.) – Rafael, Marcelo, Morel, Mendy – Ndombele, Tousart, Aouar – Traoré, Mariano, Depay