PARIS (Reuters) - Olympique Marseille captain Steve Mandanda has questioned the squad’s motivation in the run up to Sunday’s Ligue 1 clash against arch-rivals Paris St Germain after nine defeats in their last 10 matches in all competitions.
Marseille, who were knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich this week, are ninth in the league with 40 points, 16 adrift of the Champions league playoff berth and 20 behind leaders Montpellier and second-placed PSG.
“I have the feeling that this season’s end will be very long and very difficult, because the squad is a bit dejected,” Mandanda told reporters in Munich.
“There is a lack of solidarity”, he added.
Marseille face a series of domestic high-profile clashes with the away match in Paris (kickoff 1900GMT), a home game to Montpellier on Wednesday and their League Cup final against Olympique Lyon next weekend.
Defender Nicolas Nkoulou echoed Mandanda’s feelings and said he was asking a lot of questions about his team mates dedication on the pitch.
“This is not even disappointment anymore... How long will it last? We don’t have the will, neither the heart nor the good attitude,” he said.
Striker Loic Remy is doubtful for the match with a thigh problem.
Paris St Germain, who have not won a game since March 11 and lost at lowly Nancy last weekend, also need to regroup for a ‘special game’, said defender Milan Bisevac.
“It is the most important game of the year for our fans and it will also be crucial for us. We need a victory to revive our title hopes,” the Serbian told the club website (www.psg.fr).
Centre half Alex and midfielder Thiago Motta, who missed the Nancy clash with minor injuries, are back in the squad.
Unheralded leaders Montpellier, who have never won the French title and have a game in hand, host Sochaux on Saturday (1700).
“The title is obviously our goal now,” Ligue 1 top scorer Olivier Giroud told French public radio.
“It will be a shame to claim we would be happy with a final third spot,” midfielder Geoffrey Dernis added.
Third-placed Lille have reduced the gap on the top two to four points in recent weeks thanks to in-form Eden Hazard, who earned them three consecutive wins.
“We all know why he is Ligue 1 best player,” goalkeeper Mickael Landreau said of the Belgian forward, before Saturday’s trip to strugglers Brest (1700).
“I enjoy each and every moment I spend by his side. Beyond his great talent, he’s an example for all others young players,” he told the club website (www.losc.fr).
Reporting by Gregory Blachier; Editing by Alison Wildey