The preview: Paris-Lille
Ahead of the visit of Lille on Matchday 21 of Ligue 1 on Saturday 10 February at 9pm, we bring you a closer look at the upcoming match between the capital club and Lille. We take a look at the standings, the dynamics of the game and the players to watch as the Red and Blues take on LOSC.
An update on the table
Thanks to their latest Ligue 1 victory, a 1-2 away win over RC Strasbourg Alsace on the previous matchday, Paris Saint-Germain are keeping up the pace at the top of the league. With 11 wins from their last 13 games, Paris now have 47 points from 20 matches. The Rouge et Bleu are now 8 points clear of second-placed Nice and 11 ahead of Stade Brestois 29, who round off the podium.
But Lille are looking in good shape too, proving themselves to be one of the most impressive sides in France this season. With a total of 35 points from 20 games, LOSC are just outside the Ligue 1 podium in 4th place. A comfortable 4-0 win over Clermont Foot 63 in their last league game means that Lille have lost just twice in their last 22 matches in all competitions (12 wins, 8 draws). They posses a rare solidity that allowed Les Dogues to hold off the Parisians in the first game at the Decathlon Arena (1-1).
THE DYNAMICS IN NUMBERS
This Saturday evening at the Parc des Princes, Paris Saint-Germain will be looking for a 12th win in their last 14 league games. The capital club currently boast the longest unbeaten run in Ligue 1 with 15 consecutive matches without defeat (12 wins, 3 draws). The Parisians have won 6 of their last 7 league games at home, the exception being a 2-2 draw at Brest. In Ligue 1, Paris are also the team with the highest level of possession this season, with an average of 65.5%, ahead of Lille in second place with 57.8%.
As for Les Dogues, they have lost just twice away from home in Ligue 1 so far this season. Moreover, they have now gone 3 games without conceding a goal in the league. However, the match could well prove a lively affair at the Parc on Saturday, given that no fixture has produced more goals in the league over the last 3 seasons than the one between Paris and Lille. Over that period, 26 goals have been scored by the two sides in the space of 5 matches: 19 for the Rouge et Bleu, compared with 7 for LOSC. On an individual level, Jonathan David has scored in his last 2 matches against Paris and will be looking to make it three.
Paulo Fonseca and his team operate mainly in a 4-2-3-1 system. In goal, France U-21 international Lucas Chevalier has established himself as one of the best performers in the league, with an 80% save rate and 12 clean sheets so far this season. Ahead of him, another French U-21 international has emerged as one of Ligue 1's best players in his position: 18-year-old Leny Yoro. With the Brazilian Alexsandro, who should be available on Saturday, they form a central defensive duo that keeps the Lille technical staff smiling while Rafael Fernandes settles in following his recent arrival, and Samuel Umtiti continues his recovery from injury.
At right-back, 21-year-old Tiago Santos is now the undisputed starter in the absence of the injured Bafodé Diakité. The experienced Ismaily has been lined up to partner the Portuguese U-21 international on the opposite flank. The former Shakhtar Donetsk captain should be preferred to the more attack-minded Swedish international Gabriel Gudmundsson. In midfield, captain Benjamin André is a constant and will start against the Parisians. Alongside him, Nabil Bentaleb looks the most likely option for a starting berth. The Algerian international offers more security than 16-year-old youngster Ayyoub Bouaddi, while Angel Gomes could start a higher up the pitch.
Indeed, the England U-21 international (2 goals, 5 assists in all competitions) is expected to play in a playmaker's role, and is generally preferred to Turkish international Yusuf Yazici (9 goals, 3 assists). On the right wing, the mercurial Edon Zhegrova (8 goals, 9 assists) has become indispensable and is establishing himself as one of the revelations of the season in France. New signing Tiago Morais could replace him during the game, while the left flank is much more uncertain. While Adam Ounas (1 goal) and Rémy Cabella (3 goals, 3 assists) seem to be the two preferred options, Gudmundsson could also play in that position.
Icelandic international Hákon Arnar Haraldsson (3 goals, 3 assists), meanwhile, is not a starter, while Portuguese international Ivan Cavaleiro (1 goal, 2 assists) will be absent through injury. Up front, Jonathan David (13 goals, 6 assists) should come as no surprise. The Canadian international has been in fine form of late, scoring 6 goals in his last 8 Ligue 1 games. Serbian international Andrej Ilic, who has just arrived in the north of France this winter, is likely to miss the match against Les Rouge et Bleu after picking up an injury in the Coupe de France. In any case, Lille will be fielding a quality XI against the Parisians this Saturday.