BORDEAUX, April 7 – Bordeaux quickly turned their thoughts to pressing domestic matters after going down 3-2 on aggregate against Lyon in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Laurent Blanc’s side crashed out of Europe’s top club competition despite a 1-0 second-leg victory here on Wednesday but did at least manage to end a string of three consecutive defeats, the team’s worst run since January 2004.
Saturday’s surprise 2-1 defeat at home to Nancy saw the defending champions slip from the Ligue 1 summit as what was once a nine-point lead was finally whittled down to nothing.
Marseille lead the French standings by two points after beating Sochaux 3-0 on Wednesday and Marouane Chamakh, Bordeaux’s match-winner against Lyon, called on his side to focus ahead of their trip to Paris Saint-Germain at the weekend.
"Now we have to re-group for the championship," said the Moroccan.
"We can feel a bit better after the match tonight (Wednesday). We were strong, we didn’t let any goals in and we rediscovered our spirit.
"We have to focus on the championship to try to defend our title but especially to qualify for the Champions League."
Chamakh, 26, has reportedly agreed to join Premier League giants Arsenal in the summer and he hinted that this campaign would be his Bordeaux curtain call.
"Was this my last match in the Champions League with Bordeaux?" he said. "Maybe."
Blanc saluted his team for their performance but lamented the "knocks" that forced both captain Alou Diarra and centre-back Marc Planus to hobble off before the end of the game.
"It was important to win to stop the haemorrhage of defeats after three in a row," he said. "But we’re very unlucky at the moment, both on the pitch and with injuries.
"If we want to experience matches like this again, we need to qualify for the Champions League. It’s important for the players, for the club, for the fans, for everyone.
"From tomorrow (Thursday) morning we’ll try to freshen things up to focus on this match against Paris, which is difficult because we play three days later and we’re losing players."
Lyon will now meet German giants Bayern Munich to fight for a place in the Champions League final but holding midfielder Jeremy Toulalan warned his team-mates not to take their eye off the ball domestically.
"It’s an honour, we’re really happy, but we have to keep performing in the championship if we want to experience this again," said the France international.
"The priority is still the league. We can have a party if we get to the final and we win it."
An inconsistent start to the season saw Lyon fall off the pace in Ligue 1 but their 2-1 win at Rennes last weekend momentarily took them to the top of the standings on goal difference.
They have, however, played two games more than Bordeaux and a game more than Marseille and coach Claude Puel says they cannot afford to miss out on Champions League qualification by not finishing in the top three.
"Marseille and Bordeaux have the trump cards going into the final sprint," said Puel, whose team, currently second, host sixth-placed Lille on Sunday.
"Above all, we have to stay in the top three but it will be very tough with all these teams around us.
"We want to be in the Champions League next season and this group wants to continue to progress. They’ve forged something in the face of adversity and they must be allowed to grow together and progress. Playing in the Champions League regularly is the way to do that.
"The bottom line is the league. Europe is the dessert for the players and for everyone."