x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Lyon already pulling clear of rivals

The seven-time defending champions Lyon are already opening up a gap on their league rivals, and the team will look to improve on their four-point lead against Nancy.

BORDEAUX // The seven-time defending champions Lyon are already opening up a gap on their league rivals, and the team will look to improve on their four-point lead against Nancy tomorrow. Lyon strengthened their squad with several new players this summer, and with others coming back to form or returning from injury, the team is perhaps even stronger than in recent years. The club are also financially healthy and can afford to keep spending - a bad sign for Marseille, Bordeaux and Paris Saint-Germain.

After six games, Lyon lead with 16 points, while Marseille follow with 12 and Toulouse have 11. Marseille head to Le Mans tomorrow, and Toulouse travel to Valenciennes on Sunday. The Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas revealed on Wednesday that OL Groupe - the club's holding company which incorporate hotel and leisure facilities - made a net profit of US$29.5million (Dh108.3m) over the 2007-08 season.

Aulas plan to invest US$515m for a new stadium to be ready by 2012, and he knows that with the striker Karim Benzema attracting interest from Europe's biggest clubs he can raise cash easily. Benzema, 20, has five years left on his Lyon contract, and Aulas said he would only sell him for US$147m. The Lyon defender Cris, back from a knee injury, is confident their squad is the best for many years. "There are two players for every position," Cris said.

But life goes on as tomorrow's matches are Auxerre v Le Havre, Caen v Nantes, Rennes v Nice, Sochaux v Lorient, and Paris Saint-Germain v Grenoble. Monaco face Lille while Bordeaux take on Saint-Etienne on Sunday. * AP