• Marseille eyes European return

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    PARIS: With Monaco, PSG, Nice and Lyon guaranteed to finish in the Top Four in France’s Ligue 1, the remaining point of interest is between Marseille and Bordeaux, bidding for the final Europa League spot.

    Champions Monaco and runners up PSG are in the Champions League group phase, Nice in the third qualifying round, Lyon are in the Europa League while a point separates fifth-placed Marseille and Bordeaux in sixth.

    Marseille have been regalvanized since being bought by American businessman Frank McCourt last October as new coach Rudi Garcia has brought a sense of purpose to a team who drew 1-1 with Bordeaux in their penultimate game last week.

    “There are no calculations necessary, we need to win our last match and hope Marseille slip up,” Bordeaux midfielder Younousse Sankharé said.

    Marseille take on second bottom Bastia but Marseille coach Garcia has no sympathy for the Corsicans.

    “I’ve been hammering it into the players since the Bordeaux game, we need to finish the job. Bastia will do us no favors,” he said.

    “But we are fifth, and if we qualify for the Europa League this will be a totally unexpected turnaround.”

    Star striker Dimitri Payet misses out through suspension, but Florian Thauvan goes into the game boosted by a France international recall.

    Bordeaux also host a relegation threatened side in Lorient, who are looking to pull off a last-weekend escape after dragging themselves off bottom spot a month ago.

    They are now in the third-bottom spot which offers a home and away play off with the third placed side in Ligue 2.

    Monaco won the title Wednesday when an 11th straight league victory bumped them up to 92 points, six ahead of PSG. They can match the capital club’s single-season record of 30 wins in Saturday’s final game at Rennes.

    Monaco CEO Vadim Vasilyev said Thursday the club’s main objective however was to keep 18-year-old striker Kylian Mbappe who has scored 26 goals.

    Keeping Ligue 1 Coach of the Year Leonardo Jardim may also be a challenge.

    “Leonardo Jardim is the perfect coach for our project,” Vasilyev told CNN this week. “We’ve done all this together.”

    AFP

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