Lille v PSG – Stade Pierre-Mauroy at 19:45 live on BT Sport 3
PSG trail league leaders Nice by six points after 10 Ligue 1 games but manager Unai Emery insists the capital club are unfazed by the increasing gap that’s being opened up in France’s top-tier.
Les Rouge-et-Bleu dropped two more points when being held to a 0-0 draw in Sunday night’s Le Classique match-up with Marseille at the Parc des Princes. PSG failed to break down a defensive L’OM outfit to once again expose the problems afflicting Emery’s team.
The visitors arrived in Paris to frustrate and limit the defending champions with Rudi Garcia setting the visitors up in a 5-3-2 formation. Although Marseille failed to fire a single attempt at PSG, Emery’s men were toothless in attack for the majority of the match despite dominating possession and territory.
There was a lack of movement, with huge gaps between the midfield and the front three. Les Parisians ended up relying upon mistakes from Marseille’s defence, rather than being able to create their own opportunities.
Emery’s decision to withdraw Marco Verratti for Blaise Matuidi after an hour drew further criticism from the vociferous home support and many French pundits are already questioning whether the double Europa League winner is the right man to lead PSG forward.
PSG struggling in the final third
Les Rouge-et-Bleu did create one clear-cut opportunity but Edinson Cavani – scorer of nine goals already this campaign – fluffed his lines when it was easier to score. With Angel Di Maria also under fire for a poor start to the season, PSG’s offence is struggling to function.
Friday night’s visitors have suffered just four defeats in 39 Ligue 1 matches now but fans are craving a return to the 4-3-3 that served Laurent Blanc so well. It was an approach that also paid dividends when PSG destroyed Lyon in the Trophée des Champions at the start of the season.
It’s unclear whether Emery will bow to the pressure but the Spaniard must be concerned about his side’s progress. Basel should have taken at least one of the chances they created in the Champions League 10 days ago whilst defeats at Toulouse and Monaco saw Les Parisians accused of a lack of heart and desire.
Further tests against Bastia, Metz, Caen and Dijon have raised questions about Emery’s tactics and philosophy with a sole 45 minutes against Caen the only occasion of which PSG have really looked the dominant force we’ve become accustomed to.
The guests have appeared ponderous, devoid of imagination and creativity and directionless since the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. They might have churned out four victories from five but they make little appeal at skinny quotes to see off Lille this weekend despite the home side’s own struggles.
Lille looking to push on
Les Dogues have claimed two wins from their past three to move off the bottom of Ligue 1 but it’s been a rocky time on and off the pitch with former F1 Lotus team owner Gerard Lopez entering into exclusive negotiations to buy the club.
Head coach Frederic Antonetti guided Lille to a fifth-place finish last season – extending Les Dogues’ streak of concluded every campaign since 2007/08 in the top-eight – but only after a remarkable surge saw the side win nine of their final 12 fixtures to leap from 15th to fifth.
Lille had only won six of their opening 26 before that outstanding finale and following a disastrously slow start to 2016/17 (W1-D1-L5) Antonetti is desperate to push the club on once more. The boss has set his troops a target of five wins from their nine outings before the Christmas break.
Goals continue to be a problem for the hosts; since the beginning of 2015/16, Lille have notched just 49 goals in 48 games. This term, only five of their 10-goal tally has arrived from open play and although last season’s stubborn defence has gone awry, Les Dogues have tightened up in recent weeks.
Lille have faced an average of eight attempts per-game over their most recent seven outings with just 5.43 arriving from inside the penalty box despite facing the likes of high-flying Monaco, Sainte-Etienne and Guingamp.
Considering a huge 20/38 (53%) of last year’s fixtures featured Under 1.5 Goals and 29/38 (76%) rewarded Under 2.5 Goals backers, opposing goals has proven a long-term profitable formula during Lille’s games.
Indeed, in 17 matches under Antonetti at their Stade Pierre-Mauroy, Lille have seen just 6 (35%) produced three or more goals with eight (47%) encounters settled by a solitary goal or none at all.
With only 12/24 (50%) PSG away fixtures since the start of last season proving profitable in the Over 2.5 Goals market and only 5/24 (21%) of that sample breaking the three-goal barrier, it makes sense to oppose goals again here.
Seeing as Under 2.5 Goals is only available to support at 1.75 quotes, take the 1.92 available on Under 1 First-Half Goal. Only two (12%) of Lille’s 17 home games under Antonetti would have seen this selection lose whilst 13/24 (54%) of PSG’s road trips since the start of last season have paid out in this market.
Asian Handicap Recommendation: Under 1 first half goal at 1.92
Prices correct at time of writing.
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