Lille will be hoping to reclaim the top spot in the 2020/21 Ligue 1 standings when they face off against Olympique Lyon on Sunday night.

As we enter the final leg of the 2020/21 season in France, the Ligue 1 title race continues to keep taking interesting twists and turns. As many as four teams are still very much in contention for the title and two of those will battle it out on Sunday as Olympique Lyon play hosts to Lille at the Groupama Stadium.

Heading into the game, Lyon are currently fourth in the table, just five points off of leaders PSG and that gap could be cut down to only two with a win this weekend. However, Rudi Garcia’s men have been a tad bit inconsistent of late, winning just three of their last six games in all competitions, with their latest fixture ending in a 2-0 defeat to AS Monaco in the French Cup.

Lille, meanwhile, entered the gameweek as the league leaders, but slipped down to second following PSG’s 3-1 win over FC Metz on Saturday. Christophe Galtier’s men are currently two points shy of the reigning champions and a win would see them re-establish their lead at the top. However, like their opponents, Les Dogues, too, have been in patchy form of late, playing out a 1-1 draw against Montpellier last time out, meaning they have only two wins in six in all competitions.

The reverse fixture, played out in November last year, ended in a 1-1 draw with a Zeki Celik own-goal saving Lyon from a defeat after Jonathan Bamba had put Lille in front. Ahead of their latest meeting, which could have major repercussions on the Ligue 1 title race, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Olympique Lyon

Lyon manager Rudi Garcia has been treated with some positive news heading into the game as Tino Kadewere and Djamel Benlamri are back in the squad having recovered from their injuries while Jason Denayer also makes a return. However, Sinaly Diomande misses out due to suspension after being sent off against Monaco in midweek.

Garcia will set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation in front of goalkeeper Anthony Lopes, with Marcelo and the returning Denayer set to form the centre-back partnership, flanked by Leo Dubois and Maxwel Cornet, who will look to push forward and provide an attacking outlet at every given opportunity.

Maxence Caqueret should get the nod in the middle of the park alongside Bruno Guimaraes, with the duo tasked with cutting out the creative influence of the visiting side. Lucas Paqueta should slot in as the No. 10 for Les Gones on Sunday night and look to split open the Lille defence with incisive forward passes.

The threat from the wide areas should come from the pacy Karl Toko Ekambi and Memphis Depay, who will have a key role to play with his infield runs from out on the left. Islam Slimani, who did not start in the cup tie in midweek should return to spearhead the attack for Lyon on Sunday night.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Lopes; Dubois, Marcelo, Denayer, Cornet; Guimaraes, Caqueret; Toko Ekambi, Paqueta, Depay; Slimani

Lille

Jeremy Pied is back in the squad, having recovered from injury while Renato Sanches is also available after missing the last game against Montpellier. As to whether they are fit enough to start such a pivotal game remains to be seen.

Christophe Galtier is expected to continue to put his faith in the 4-4-2 formation that he has fielded of late, with Mike Maignan set to man the goal against Lyon. There is no looking past Jose Fonte and Sven Botman for the centre-back pairing while Zeki Celik should continue at right-back ahead of Pied, whereas Reinildo Mandava slots in as the left-back.

Benjamin Andre and Boubakary Soumare will have the onus of protecting the back four from the Lyon runners while also keeping a lid on the creative output of Lucas Paqueta. Jonathan Bamba and Jonathan Ikone ought to be the two wide midfielders, who will be the main chance-creators for the visiting side.

Burak Yilmaz will operate as the target man at the top for Lille and will be the focal point with his physical presence. While the likes of Jonathan David and Timothy Weah are also options at Galtier’s disposal, Yusuf Yazici is likely to get the nod owing to the added creative touch he brings to the table, playing off of Yilmaz.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Maignan; Celik, Fonte, Botman, Mandava; Ikone, Andre, Soumare, Bamba; Yazici, Yilmaz

Key Stats

  • Lille are undefeated in their last nine fixtures against Olympique Lyon in all competitions.
  • Lyon have picked up 67 points from 33 games in Ligue 1 this season – their highest tally at this stage of a campaign since 2007/08 when they finished as champions.
  • Lille have lost just one of their last 15 Ligue 1 matches (W11 D4).
  • 50% if Karl Toko Ekambi’s goals with Lyon in Ligue 1 in 2020/21 have been scored from inside the six yard box (6/12) – the highest rate among players scoring at least 10 goals.
  • Lille are unbeaten in their last 11 away Ligue 1 games (W9 D2), their longest such run away from home in the top-flight since December 2018 – May 2019 (also 11).

Player to Watch

Memphis Depay

If Lyon are to make a late push for the Ligue 1 title, they will need their star man, Memphis Depay, to step up and deliver. Even as talks over his future continue to rage on, the Dutchman has not let that affect him, racking up an impressive return of 20 goals and 9 assists from 36 games across all competitions.

Depay has been in red-hot form heading into Sunday’s game, having bagged a brace in each of his last two Ligue 1 outings. Since the turn of the year, the 27-year-old has been directly involved in 15 league goals – more than any other player during the period. More of the same will be needed this weekend if his team are to get past Lille.

Prediction

Olympique Lyon 1-1 Lille

Lille come into the game better rested than their opponents, who had a midweek cup assignment, bringing fatigue into the picture. And while Lille have been very hard to beat, they have found goals hard to come by of late. Lyon, meanwhile, despite losing to Monaco last time out, had a good game and cannot be taken lightly at all, owing to the form of Memphis Depay while Tino Kadewere’s return will also be a boost for Rudi Garcia & co.

It is likely to be a closely-contested affair on Sunday with little separating the two teams, which is why The Hard Tackle is predicting this one to end in a scored stalemate.

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