Les Dogues unbeaten run in Le Championnat was undone last weekend by Lyon, and now they must face the Champions...
Ligue 1’s top game of the weekend pits Lille against reigning champions Olympique de Marseille. Les Dogues slipped to a 3-1 defeat against Olympique Lyonnais last weekend and will be looking to swiftly bounce back against OM, though after exerting themselves in a midweek Europa League clash they have their work cut out.
It’s been something of a mixed start to the campaign for LOSC. Though they were unbeaten in league play until last Sunday, they have also been struggling to find their best form. Too often Rudi Garcia’s men have been stifled to draws in matches that should have been theirs, though they at least managed to find some kind of killer instinct against Levski Sofia in midweek to claim a 1-0 success.
Lille have happy memories of this fixture from last season, in which they uncovered an unlikely hero as they pushed towards the summit of the table in spring. Les Dogues twice trailed OM at home last season, despite their guests being reduced to 10 men. In the closing minutes of the match, Tulio de Melo levelled the game before right-back Mathieu Debuchy flung himself at a corner to notch the winning goal – a contribution that saw him pick up an injury serious enough to ensure that was his last contribution of the campaign.
On their day, Lille are Le Championnat’s most attractive team. In a league in which defensive football is king, Garcia sets his side up in a genuine 4-3-3 formation, and it was this intent that helped them fly last term. It’s not been an especially happy start to this season, but this is a side who have it in them to explode into life.
Not At Their Peak
Marseille are still a side recovering from a slow start to the season, but despite giving their opponents a potential six point head start due to an abject start to the campaign, they have managed to quickly lift themselves back into title contention. Didier Deschamps’ men have won three of their last four Ligue 1 games, drawing to within four points of leaders Stade Rennais.
OM’s good run continued on Tuesday evening in the Champions League, when they were good enough to defeat Zilina 1-0. The French champions were hardly brilliant over the course of 90 minutes, but they were deserving victors. Deschamps, though, wants to see more from his men.
“Everything was pointing towards a large victory,” Deschamps told the press. “We played some good football in the first half, but things got laborious after that, due to fatigue perhaps but also to some weakness on our part. But the essential thing was the result.
“We missed simple opportunities, which obliged us to make a huge effort. We need more simplicity in order to win more effectively.”
Having seen off relatively moderate opposition in recent weeks, OM are finally faced with a noteworthy domestic rival, and their performance at a tough venue should be used as a barometer as to just how well les Phoceens are going at present.
Prior to their Europa League encounter with Levski Sofia, LOSC were missing only Tulio de Melo, who is an injury issue.
Rudi Garcia has frequently rotated his side in recent times and it should be anticipated that there will be a significant reshuffle from Thursday’s starting XI.
Like their hosts, OM don’t have too many problems on the selection front. Edouard Cisse is a little uncertain after picking up an injury during his brief cameo in midweek, but otherwise Deschamps has a full panel of players to choose from.