Monaco aim to put European woes aside and strengthen Ligue 1 credentials

MADRID (Reuters) - - Monaco will look to put the disappointment of their Champions League semi-final first-leg defeat to Juventus behind them when they travel to second-bottom Nancy on Saturday night.

The Monegasques have a three-point lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table with four to play, and have a game in hand over their nearest rivals, Paris Saint-Germain.

A win would put them within touching distance of their first league title since 2000. Coach Leonardo Jardim also believes that a positive result this weekend could have a catalytic effect ahead of Tuesday’s return leg.

"I talked to the players, I told them we needed to believe," Jardim said. "The best thing we can do is to win in the league on Saturday at Nancy. Winning there would then offer the opportunity to play the second match in Turin with strong motivation and confidence. I want to tell everyone that we haveto support the team on Saturday."

A 3-1 defeat to third-placed Nice last weekend means that PSG must rely on Monaco slipping up if they are to stand any chance of lifting a fifth straight Ligue 1 crown.

With many of the young Rouges et Blancs outfit having no experience with the pressure of a title run in, PSG know that they can put the pressure back on Monaco earlier on Saturday with a victory at home to Bastia, now at the bottom of thetable.

Full back Thomas Meunier sayss they still believe there can be one final twist this season.

"We're not going to give up on anything. We'll play to the end and do our utmost to try and catch Monaco," Meunier said. "We have had a great season with more than 80 points. Monaco and Nice were able to keep pace. That's great for the league and it'll help us grow, too."

Likewise, manager Unai Emery is refusing to give up: "It's more difficult now, but the title is not lost. We're going to continue working for that, to win the three matches that remain and the Coupe de France final."

The weekend’s action draws to a close on Sunday when Marseille host Nice in the Mediterranean derby.

(Editing by Larry King)