Paris Saint-Germain VS Lille OSC
Venue: Parc des Princes
Date: 22nd December 2013
Kick-Off: 20:00 (GMT)
Paris Saint-Germain will finish the year as ‘Winter Champions’ for the third consecutive time, whatever happens tonight against Lille. Monaco’s shock 2-1 defeat at home to relegation battlers Valenciennes meant the club from Monte Carlo missed the opportunity to jump us.
With Edinson Cavani back in Uruguay to finalise matters regarding his divorce to wife Maria Soledad, that result on Friday night could not have been timed any better. The Uruguayan has had a sterling week, especially after his standout performance on Wednesday against Saint-Etienne. Unfortunately for us however the number nine will NOT figure. Laurent Blanc said in his pre-match presser that we “will see” regarding his [participation but details of the squad were announced last night with the in-form striker not making the cut.
In a big game like this, it is a blow. Nevertheless, the talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic makes his return after serving a suspension in the week. It is a rarity for the big man to be overshadowed by anyone but Cavani’s performance in the week certainly made him the talk of the capital and the whole of France in truth. Ibra will be back as the central striker with most probably Ezequiel Lavezzi supporting from the left, Lucas Moura on the right.
Lucas’ performance against Saint-Etienne was one of his best this season. He was handed an opportunity and he certainly took it. No doubt, a place in the starting-XI after that is deserved. There was no static play from him, he simply wanted the ball and run at the ASSE defence. To be honest, when he was substituted we lost that spark. Our second-half performance was by no means impressive but it did falter more so when the little Brazilian was substituted.
Maxwell, having been an ever present in the team for nearly two years now, will miss his fourth consecutive match due to injury. This is again a wonderful chance for Lucas Digne. The young man has not only taken his chance but he is seemingly getting stronger with these run of games. He and Gregory Van der Wiel are a real striking duo when they overlap the wide men and a lot of creativity does come from them, especially in the first-half in midweek.
Our opponents are a much more assured side to the one from last season. This is a side capable of mounting a serious title challenge and they are certainly doing that at the moment. Rene Girard’s team sit in third, four points off us. They have undisputedly the best defence in the country conceding just six goals in 18 games. It is a remarkable statistic. The signing of Danish central defender Simon Kjaer from Wolfsburg is a big reason for that, as is his relationship with Marko Basa. They have been rock solid. On top of that, seven of their wins have been a 1-0 victory, one of them being against Monaco. It emphasises their efficiency which is impressive!
If we win tonight, we will go five points clear heading into the New Year which will be a morale boost no doubt. Lille have only lost once at the Parc in the last four years and will always evoke fond memories from their in 2011 which clinched them the title.