Monaco will get a chance to prove their Ligue 1 title credentials can survive the loss of influential striker Radamel Falcao when they visit Marseille on Sunday.
Falcao suffered a serious knee injury in the Coupe de France win over Chasselay Monts d'or Azergues in midweek, with his season likely to be over and his dreams of spearheading Colombia's World Cup campaign under threat.
The 27-year-old is Monaco's top scorer in the league, netting nine times in 17 games, and leaves a huge hole in the club's forward line.
Monaco captain Jeremy Toulalan did not attempt to downplay the importance of the injury, admitting: "It's a big blow. I think it is serious. The news is not reassuring."
By the time Claudio Ranieri's side take to the field in the final match of the weekend, they could be eight points behind rivals Paris St Germain, should the latter defeat Guingamp on Saturday.
PSG were surprisingly defeated by Montpellier in the Coupe de France on Wednesday and are ready to make up for that by underlining their own league credentials at Stade du Roudourou.
"Our aim is still to win more than one title and we can still do that," midfielder Blaise Matuidi told the club's official website.
"Now we have to focus on our next challenge which is the championship match away to Guingamp."
The round of fixtures gets under way with third-placed Lille hosting Rennes on Friday night.
The home side are still searching for their first points of the year, having lost to Reims and St Etienne, but will be without central defender Simon Kjaer.
The Denmark international injured his left adductor against minnows Iris Club de Croix in the 3-0 cup victory, with coach Rene Girard confirming: "We will not take any risks. It would have been a miracle if he had recovered for this match. That said, I am assured there is no tear or a big injury."
Elsewhere on Saturday rock bottom Ajaccio welcome Sochaux hoping to end a five-game losing streak, Nice visit Montpellier, Nantes take on Reims, Bastia head to Toulouse and relegation-threatened Valenciennes try to make it three wins in a row against Lorient.
On Sunday, Lyon put their six-game unbeaten run up against Evian, while European hopefuls St Etienne are away at Bordeaux.