Paris Saint-Germain will be hoping to get back to winning ways when they take on defending champions LOSC Lille on Friday.

After a goalless draw against Marseille last weekend, PSG will look to pick themselves up and get back to winning ways. However, another stern test awaits Mauricio Pochettino’s men as they take on last season’s Ligue 1 champions LOSC Lille on Friday night.

PSG will have the home advantage heading into this game. But the momentum certainly doesn’t side with them at the moment, having won just one of their last three matches in Ligue 1. The French giants still hold a whopping seven-point lead over second-placed RC Lens, but a negative result against Lille will allow the chasing pack to cover valuable ground.

Lille are not the easiest of opponents either, which was evident last season when Les Dogues scripted an astonishing fairytale to secure the Ligue 1 crown. Unfortunately, the departure of head coach Christophe Galtier, coupled with the financial crisis, has seen them struggle this term.

In eleven matches, Lille have registered only four wins. It puts them in a mid-table spot, just below fellow strugglers Lyon and Monaco. Nevertheless, the visitors have the quality to upset PSG and given the rivalry between these two sides, this promises to be a fascinating clash at Parc des Princes this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

PSG

After the dismal attacking performance in the goalless draw with Marseille last time out, it won’t be surprising to see Pochettino make one or two alterations to his team this Friday.

Achraf Hakimi remains sidelined due to suspension. He joins Sergio Ramos in the list of defensive absentees for PSG whilst paving the way for Thilo Kehrer to potentially start at right-back. The German is likely to form the four-man PSG backline alongside Marquinhos, Presnel Kimpembe and Nuno Mendes.

The onus will be on new signing Mendes to offer more substance going forward due to the absence of Hakimi. It also means Kehrer could be assigned a more defensive role, perhaps as the right-sided defender in an auxiliary back-three.

Moving forward, Pochettino needs to make a decision on his midfield department. A 4-2-3-1 was favoured in the last game, but given the struggles of Angel Di Maria, the Argentine could return to the customary 4-3-3 that offers the numerical advantage in midfield and more security in possession.

However, Marco Verratti has recently picked up a knock, ruling him out for a few weeks. In his absence, we expect a rare starting opportunity for Gini Wijnaldum, alongside Ander Herrera and Idrissa Gueye.

In attack, Neymar should retain his place in the side despite an underwhelming effort against Marseille. He will be looking to cause problems on the flanks with his trickery. The onus of creating chances will be on Lionel Messi on the right, supported by Kylian Mbappe, although the Frenchman is a doubt for the game due to infection. Mauro Icardi is ready to step in should the youngster miss out.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Navas; Kehrer, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Mendes; Herrera, Gueye, Wijnaldum; Messi, Mbappe, Neymar

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LOSC Lille

Lille’s new head coach Jocelyn Gourvennec hasn’t changed the team’s formation much since taking over in the summer. The trademark 4-4-2, previously used by Galtier, will be in effect once again, with an additional emphasis on defensive solidity.

Unfortunately, the visitors are missing Sven Botman with a long-term injury. With Jose Fonte ageing, there has been a decline in the team’s solidity at the back. Lille, nevertheless, will be hoping to make things work with the central defensive combination of Fonte and Tiago Djalo.

In Zeki Celik and Reinildo, they also have two responsible full-backs who can offer good variety out wide. Reinildo is likely to be given more freedom to get forward, where he can combine with Jonathan Bamba to bombard the flanks and make life difficult for PSG’s wide defenders.

However, Lille will need to be resolute in midfield, where one of their key operators in Benjamin Andre is facing a suspension due to the accumulation of yellow cards.

Renato Sanches is the definite replacement on paper, but Gourvennec might want to deploy the Portuguese international in a wider role. It offers more flexibility in the Lille midfield as Sanches can effortlessly switch between a wide and a central role. As for Andre’s replacement, Amadou Onana is the likely option, alongside Xeka.

Meanwhile, in the Lille attack, Gourvennec is set to continue with the offensive duo of Burak Yilmaz and Jonathan David. These two offer an excellent variety of pace and experience, which worked well to help Les Dogues win the title last term.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Grbic; Celik, Fonte, Djalo, Reinildo; Sanches, Onana, Xeka, Bamba; David, Yilmaz

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Key Stats

  • PSG have lost their last two games against Lille in all competitions and could lose three consecutive games against the same opponent for the first time since between March 1987 to September 1988 (4).
  • After their win at Parc des Princes on 3rd April (1-0), Lille can become the first team to win two consecutive away games in Paris in Ligue 1 since Rennes in November 2012 and May 2014.
  • PSG have failed to score in their last two games against Lille in all competitions but have never gone three games in a row without scoring against the same team in the QSI era.
  • Paris Saint-Germain have won just one of their last three Ligue 1 games, having won their first eight this season. After the goalless draw against Marseille last Sunday, PSG could register two games in a row without a win in the top flight for the first time under Mauricio Pochettino.
  • Lille have won just 15 points after 11 Ligue 1 games this season – only Nantes in 2001/02 (4) and Montpellier in 2012/13 (12) have had fewer points as a reigning champion at this stage in the top flight in the 21st century.

Player to Watch

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi might not be ready to start a game for PSG just yet. (Photo by Pau Barrena/AFP/Getty Images)

Lionel Messi is hoping to spill his magic on the proceedings. (Photo by Pau Barrena/AFP/Getty Images)

Lionel Messi has endured a mixed start to his PSG career since arriving from Barcelona in the summer. The Argentine international has often been the difference-maker in the club’s Champions League games. However, he is yet to register a single goal or assist in Ligue 1 so far.

The pressure has been intensified after the goalless draw with Marseille that saw the attacker struggle to pick apart the opposition backline. Another disappointing performance this time around could mount further pressure on the attacker, especially amid the ongoing Ballon d’Or fight between him and Robert Lewandowski.

However, it will be equally important for Mauricio Pochettino to utilise Messi more efficiently. The former Barcelona superstar has often featured in a withdrawn role in Ligue 1 this season, so it will be interesting to see if the Argentine deploys his fellow countryman in a more advanced role this Friday.

Prediction

Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 LOSC Lille

LOSC Lille have had an excellent record against Paris Saint-Germain over the past year or so. However, they are currently a shadow of their old self under the new coach, and the departure of Boubakary Soumare coupled with the absence of Benjamin Andre and Sven Botman is set to serve as a massive blow for the away side.

On the flipside, PSG will be hungry for three points after appearing quite complacent in recent matches. It won’t be surprising to see Messi spilling his magic on the proceedings, and as such, we predict a comfortable victory for Les Parisiens this Friday.

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