PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN vs Lille OSC
Venue: Parc des Princes
Date: 18th December 2011
Kick-Off: 20:00 (GMT)
Thursday night was one of those bittersweet moments for Paris Saint-Germain who earned a valiant 4-2 win over Athletic Bilbao but also succumbed to elimination from the Europa League.
Red Bull Salzburg’s win in Slovakia vanquished the Parisians hopes of making it into the last-32 on goal difference. Now attention switches solely to domestic matters, with a mammoth challenge in front of them against the reigning Ligue 1 champions Lille tomorrow night.
PSG are joint top, sitting just below Montpellier who have a better goal difference. As for the champions, they lie in third, two points off the top two. There is nothing between both clubs from past meetings, both winning ten apiece and drawing another ten in 40 clashes.
Like PSG, LOSC also bowed out of Europe, failing to make the knockout stages of the Champions League over a week and half ago. Nevertheless, a faltering European campaign has not hindered their form on home soil which has been pretty much flawless. They have only suffered one defeat in the league all season, coming at home against Montpellier all the way back in August. Since then they have gone on this amazing undefeated streak but ultimately the failure to convert draws into wins has been their Achilles heel.
The array of talent they possess will pose as a potent threat to the PSG backline. The form of midfield maestro Eden Hazard has been riveting once again, finding the back of the net six times. His last came just last weekend in the 2-0 win over Dijon. He also has seven assists to his name, many of which have been profited from by striker Moussa Sow who will act as a battering ram against the Parisian captain Mamadou Sakho. Joe Cole, who is on loan from Liverpool, is really starting to come into his own. He has been contributing himself with a couple of goals and is more often than not being picked by Coach Rudi Garcia in his starting-XI.
As for the hosts, Antoine Kombouare will be buoyed by the fact his team have strung together three consecutive wins and beginning to show some early season form. The disappointment over an early exit from Europe will leave a bitter taste in the mouth but the Coach and players wholeheartedly know just how big tomorrow night is. A win for the home side will be a detrimental blow to the champions and would put them five points off the pace at the top. The same certainly applies for Les Rouge-et-Bleu who will be leapfrogged by their opponents if they succumb to defeat.
The team more or less picks itself these days but there is a doubt or two over the fitness of Jeremy Menez who missed the game in midweek. Guillaume Hoarau made a triumphant return to first-team matters on Thursday night by netting a stoppage time penalty after three months out recuperating from shoulder surgery. He will undoubtedly be in Kombouare’s squad for the game and his presence is hugely beneficial.
With just one more fixture following this before the winter break, the psychological benefits from a win tomorrow will be massive for either side. Incidentally, leaders Montpellier face a potential banana skin against Toulouse in what could be a defining weekend in Ligue 1.