Paris Saint-Germain host defending champions Lille at the Parc des Princes on Friday evening as they look to cement their hold atop the French Ligue 1. Mauricio Pochettino’s side have a healthy seven point lead over Lens in second place while Lille have been struggling since their fairytale triumph last season.
This is PSG’s second major test in a row for their domestic season, holding out for a 0-0 draw last time out against Marseille after being reduced to 10-men following Achraf Hakimi’s red card. The Parisiens lead their tricky Champions League group as well, ahead of Manchester City but the side looks far from settled.
The front-three Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi has not gelled as well as expected and there is distinct lack of balance between attack and defence in the lineup.
Lille too are struggling to find their feet under new manager Jocelyn Gourvennec after the departure of Christopher Galtier in the summer. Galtier led a mass exodus from the club which is mired in financial troubles.
Goalkeeper Mike Maignan’s move to AC Milan has especially hurt the side given that they have conceded the joint most number of goals of any side in the top half. And Lille are barely hanging on in the top half, ahead of Lorient in 11th only on the basis of having won more matches.
📈📉 Here's how the league table looks after yesterday's action — how did your team do? pic.twitter.com/Qjdl8dc7yu
— Ligue1 English (@Ligue1_ENG) October 28, 2021
Lille need to get a result against PSG to turn things around but that is easier said than done with the visitors winless in their last three matches.
The major absence for Pochettino will be Italian midfielder Marco Verratti who is ruled out for four weeks after picking up a hip injury against Marseille. This poses a problem for PSG in midfield with Leandro Paredes also out with a thigh problem.
Pep Guardiola: “If Messi is happy in Paris, I will be so happy for Leo. And let me say I’m in love with Marco Verratti. He is an exceptional player. He is small… but you can always count on him. I'm happy he's back from injury”. @Tanziloic 🔵 #MCFC #PSG
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) September 28, 2021
Hakimi is suspended following his red-card and Pochettino will be hoping he can find the right replacements for the big match.
PSG Predicted Lineup: Navas; Kehrer, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Mendes; Herrera, Gueye; Messi, di Maria, Neymar; Mbappe
Lille’s only major absence is Dutch defender Sven Botman who is ruled out with a quadricep injury. The 21-year old was key to their title success last year, partnering Jose Fonte in central defence but the pairing has not been as successful this season. Gouvennec has a full squad to pick from otherwise.
— InjuryMechanisms (@IMechanisms) October 27, 2021
Lille Predicted Lineup: Grbic; Celik, Fonte, Djalo, Mandava; Sanches, Andre, A. Onana, Bamba; David, Yilmaz
PSG have no shortage of attacking options but their performance will hinge on whether they can control the midfield or not, especially in Verratti’s absence. After the Italian, Ander Herrera is their best midfielder technically and he will be key to their success. Pochettino’s side has looked disconnected often between their midfield and attack and he will be looking to Herrera to correct this.
— Ander Herrera (@AnderHerrera) October 21, 2021
His contributions though will be more important defensively – the league leaders have been exposed multiple times on the break and Lille could look to target those opportunities. Herrera is adept at breaking up play and he will need to be aware continuously to shut up shop.
For Lille, the main man is Jonathan David. The Canadian forward scored 13 goals last year helping his side to the league title and has picked up from where he left off. David already has more than half his tally from last year having scored a league-high seven goals in Ligue 1.
Jonathan David has now scored more goals than any other player in Ligue 1 this season:
◎ 11 games
◉ 7 goals
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) October 23, 2021
Still only 21, David has shown that he has excellent spatial awareness, making smart runs to exploit opposing defences. He will certainly get opportunities to do the same against a PSG defence that is shaky at best.
Paris Saint-Germain are the overwhelming favourites against Lille given the form of both sides but they are not invincible as shown by recent performances against Angers and Rennes. The defending champions could cause the league leaders some problems but it is unlikely that they will get a result and so, FootTheBall predicts PSG 3-1 Lille.