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Somber mood in France as Ligue 1 resumes

19 November 2015, 18:51

Paris — Grieving for his cousin who was killed in the terrorist attacks in Paris last week, Lassana Diarra's mind is most likely far away from Marseille's trip to Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

Diarra was playing for France against Germany last Friday when the night of terror began with explosions outside the Stade de France. His cousin was among 129 people killed and 350 wounded, but he stayed with the national team and went on as a substitute against England at Wembley on Tuesday.

He has arguably been Marseille's best player this season, but it is uncertain whether he will face Saint-Etienne, with his club reportedly giving him some time off.

Diarra was not the only French league player affected.

Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu lost two friends in the attacks, and the Italian said, "It's not an attack on football, it's an attack on our way of lives."

For Diarra and Sirigu, the minute's silence before this weekend's matches will be particularly poignant.

Here are some things to know about the games which take place amid heightened security, and with no away fans in order to help the nation's embattled police forces.


MATUIDI'S FEARS: With a haunted look in his eyes, France and PSG midfielder Blaise Matuidi spoke of his ongoing fears in the wake of the terror attacks.

"I have family who live in Paris. I'm worried, I'm very worried," Matuidi said after France's match against England on Tuesday, turning his head sideways and looking upward as he spoke. "We have to unite and stay together, but it's not easy."

IBRAHIMOVIC PEAKING: Free from the injury problems that plagued him last season, veteran PSG striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is playing some of the best football of his career.

The Swede starred during the international break, scoring three goals in two matches to send Sweden into the European Championship next year at the expense of Denmark in their playoff.

That took his tally to five in his last four games for Sweden, adding to the nine in eight league games he has for runaway leader PSG this season.

The last time the teams met, Ibrahimovic scored a hat trick as PSG beat Lorient 3-1 at home in March.

IMPROVING LACAZETTE: Alexandre Lacazette's return to form comes at the right time for resurgent Lyon, which heads into Friday's match away at Nice on the back of a five-game unbeaten run.

Lacazette, last season's top scorer in the league with 27, started slow before answering his critics in style with a hat trick against bitter rival Saint-Etienne two weeks ago.

It was Lyon's third straight win, and moved it up into second place in the league for the first time this season. Lyon finished runner-up to PSG last season.

With strike partner Claudio Beauvue filling in well for the injured Nabil Fekir, Lyon's attack is finally starting to click.

LYON'S PARTNERSHIP: Lyon this week signed a partnership with Senegalese club Dakar Sacre Cour, one which Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas hopes will help African players flourish when they arrive in Europe.

Aulas says Lyon will offer the club "its knowledge and savoir-faire, financial support and a very specific program" aimed at nurturing talent early on and preparing players for life in Europe.

Matthieu Chupin, the Dakar club president, called the partnership "remarkable."

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- AP


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