LOSC Lille will be hoping to take a step towards lifting the 2020/21 Ligue 1 title when they play hosts to AS Saint-Etienne in the penultimate matchweek this Sunday.

With just two games left to be played, LOSC Lille are on the cusp of becoming the champions of France. Indeed, Christophe Galtier’s men have a three-point lead over reigning champions Paris Saint-Germain who are second and need just four points from two games in order to be crowned the Ligue 1 champions for 2020/21.

And Lille will be hoping to collect three of the four points needed when they face off against AS Saint-Etienne at Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Sunday night. Les Dogues are on a six-game unbeaten run in the league, winning five of those games, including their most recent fixture against RC Lens which they won 3-0. This run of results has allowed Galtier & co. to open up the lead at the top and they will be intent on holding on to it on Sunday.

Saint-Etienne, meanwhile, are mired in the mid-table following a run of four wins in six games. Currently 11th in the standings, courtesy of their 1-0 win over Olympique Marseille, Claude Puel’s side are in with a chance to end the campaign in the top half of the table, given as they are just a point off of tenth-placed FC Metz.

The reverse fixture, played in November last year, had ended in a 1-1 draw with Jonathan Ikone cancelling out Wahbi Khazri’s first-half penalty goal. And ahead of their latest meeting on Sunday, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

LOSC Lille

Lille have been boosted by the return of midfield mainstay Benjamin Andre, who is back in contention after missing the last game due to suspension. As a result, heading into this crucial encounter, Christophe Galtier has a full-strength squad at his disposal. The Ligue 1 leaders will continue to line up in their preferred 4-4-2 formation in front of goalkeeper Mike Maignan.

Veteran defender Jose Fonte ought to pair up alongside Sven Botman, who is a transfer target for Manchester United and Tottenham, at the heart of the Lille defence. Zeki Celik and Reinildo Mandava should be the two full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively, from where they will look to make driving runs forward.

The returning Andre ought to slot right back into the starting XI, manning the midfield region with the ever-impressive Boubakary Soumare. No changes are likely in the wider areas, with Luiz Araujo and Jonathan Bamba likely to get the nod again, although Renato Sanches is an option for Galtier, provided the Portuguese is fully fit.

Up top, there is absolutely no looking past the in-form duo of Burak Yilmaz and Jonathan David, with the likes of Yusuf Yazici, Jonathan Ikone and Timothy Weah all providing further ammunition from the bench if required.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Maignan; Celik, Fonte, Botman, Reinildo; Araujo, Andre, Soumare, Bamba; Yilmaz, David

Saint-Etienne

Saint-Etienne will be without the services of Harold Moukoudi, who is out with a thigh injury, while Yvann Macon and Jessy Moulin are also unavailable. In addition, Anthony Modeste, Pape Abou Cisse and Ryad Boudebouz are also missing from the squad named by manager Claude Puel for the trip to Lille.

Like Lille, Saint-Etienne are also likely to set up in a 4-4-2 formation on Sunday night at Stade Pierre-Mauroy, with Stefan Bajic guarding the goal. He will be protected by the centre-back pairing of Panagiotis Retsos and Timothee Kolodziejczak while captain Mathieu Debuchy and Gabriel Silva line up as the full-backs, with the latter replacing Miguel Trauco on the left side.

Denis Bouanga, who is ASSE’s leading goalscorer in Ligue 1 this term (7), should return to the lineup, slotting in on the right wing. Arnaud Nordin, who scored the only goal of the game against Marseille last time out, holds onto his place on the left wing. Mahdi Camara ought to hold on to his place in the middle of the park, but should be paired with Lucas Gourna-Douath, while Adil Aouchiche is also an option.

Romain Hamouma, who came on from the bench in the previous game, should slot in alongside Wahbi Khazri as the two strikers upfront, with Charles Abi dropping out to the bench on Sunday.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Bajic; Debuchy, Retsos, Kolodziejczak, Silva; Bouanga, Camara, Gourna-Douath, Nordin; Hamouma, Khazri

Key Stats

  • Lille have not lost in 18 of their last 20 home matches in Ligue 1.
  • Saint-Etienne have won five of their last eight games in Ligue 1 (L3), as many as in their previous 26 (D9 L12).
  • Lille have won only two of their last six games at home in Ligue 1 (D3 L1), after winning eight of their first 12 this season (D3 L1).
  • Saint-Etienne have won five of their last seven away games in the league, after winning only two of their previous 18.
  • If Lille can better PSG’s result on Matchday 37, they will win the Ligue 1 title for the fourth time in their history after 1946, 1954 and 2011. This will see them equal OGC Nice as the ninth-most successful French team in terms of top-flight titles.

Player to Watch

Burak Yilmaz

Who else but the ageless wonder that is Burak Yilmaz. 35 years old, in his first season in France and the Turkish striker has spearheaded Lille’s title charge in a vehement fashion, as he has plundered 15 goals and set up 5 more in 26 Ligue 1 outings. The manner in which he has stepped up during the crucial run-in period has been critical for the league leaders.

Indeed, Yilmaz has scored five goals in his last three appearances and seven in his last four, taking it upon himself to help the team navigate the tricky waters during the business end of the campaign. With two more games left, the veteran striker will be itching to take Les Dogues all the way to their first Ligue 1 title in ten years.

Prediction

LOSC Lille 2-1 Saint-Etienne

Lille have not been all too consistent at home in recent week and with Saint-Etienne’s performances improving on the road of late, it could be a close encounter at Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Sunday.

However, given the way in which Christophe Galtier’s men have stepped up in recent weeks and considering what is at stake, they should be able to get over the line once again, with Burak Yilmaz likely to be the protagonist. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win Les Dogues.

Leave A Comment...

*