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Claude Paris, Associated Press
Montpellier's French midfielder Younes Belhanda, reacts after Montpellier defeated Marseille, during their League One soccer match, at the Velodrome stadium, in Marseille, southern France, Wednesday, April 11, 2012.

PARIS — Montpellier has been playing down its chances of winning a first French league title all season, though Rene Girard's players are now openly declaring their intention to finish ahead of big-spending Paris Saint-Germain with seven rounds left.

Montpellier won 3-1 at Marseille on Wednesday in its game in hand to move three points ahead of PSG at the top. Montpellier also has a better goal difference than PSG.

While PSG is struggling to justify its huge outlay of more than €100 million on new players and a midseason change of coach, Montpellier has earned widespread praise through its exciting brand of football.

Both teams are away this weekend, with PSG at last-place Auxerre and Montpellier visiting 18th-place Lorient.