x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Bordeaux only need a draw

Laurent Blanc, the Bordeaux manager, wants his players to stay "focused" as they look to wrap up their first league title triumph in a decade on a potentially dramatic final day in France's Ligue 1.

Laurent Blanc, the Bordeaux manager, wants his players to stay "focused" as they look to wrap up their first league title triumph in a decade on a potentially dramatic final day in France's Ligue 1. Les Girondins lead the title rivals Marseille by three points, which means Bordeaux need only a point away to the relegation candidates Caen tonight to claim the sixth league crown of their 128-year history.

Marseille host Rennes, who also have something to play for as they are chasing a Europa League place, but the only way Marseille can be crowned champions is if they win and Bordeaux lose. So Bordeaux's fate is in their hands, and Blanc has told his players to go out and enjoy themselves in front of a sell-out 21,000 crowd at Stade Michel-d'Ornano. "We know how much is at stake," said the former France international, who led Bordeaux to the runners-up spot in his rookie season as a coach last term. "It's an exciting situation, and we're motivated. We're trying to enjoy it as much as we can.

"We're focused without worrying too much. We're under pressure, just as Caen, Marseille, Rennes and other teams are. The team that handles the pressure better will become champions. It's up to us to make sure our players use the pressure positively rather than buckle under it." Bordeaux - who will set a Ligue 1 record of 11 straight victories if they win tonight - received a huge boost on Thursday night when Yoann Gourcuff announced he had signed a permanent deal with the club.

The France playmaker, 22, has had a massive impact since arriving on loan from AC Milan last summer. He has scored 12 goals - including five in his last five games - provided eight assists and recently collected the Ligue 1 Player of the Year and Goal of the Season prizes, the latter for a dazzling individual effort against PSG last January. Bordeaux will pay Milan a transfer fee of ?15 million (Dh77.5m).

Gourcuff's monthly salary in Gironde is estimated to be around ?350,000. Even if Marseille overtake Bordeaux to become champions, their fixture against Rennes at Stade Velodrome will be Eric Gerets' last as their coach. The former Belgium international defender, 55, has signed a two-year deal to take over at Saudi Arabian club Al Hilal from July. Toulouse, PSG, Rennes and Lille are battling for two Europa League places, while St Etienne, Caen, Le Mans and Sochaux will fight to avoid joining Nantes and Le Havre in Ligue 2 next season.

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