Sports Mole previews Saturday’s Ligue 1 clash between Nice and Lille, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
The home side are currently fourth, two points behind third-placed Monaco and five from second-placed Marseille, while Lille sit down in 10th and have little to play for in their final two matches.
Nice were beaten 1-0 by Nantes in the Coupe de France final on May 7, and it did appear that they would suffer a hangover on Wednesday at home to Saint-Etienne in Ligue 1.
Indeed, the visitors led 2-0 at the interval of the contest at Allianz Riviera, but Christophe Galtier‘s side responded in impressive fashion, netting four unanswered goals in the second half to record a 4-2 victory, which moved them into fourth position in the table on 63 points.
As it stands, Nice are in a Europa League position, but they are only two points behind third-placed Monaco and five from second-placed Marseille, so securing qualification for the Champions League is still a possibility, depending on other results on Saturday.
Les Aiglons have now won their last three league matches against Troyes, Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne, but they are just three points ahead of sixth-placed Strasbourg, meaning that two poor results against Lille and Reims could see them drop out of the European spots.
Galtier’s team have been strong in front of their own supporters this season, picking up 34 points from 18 matches, and they will be welcoming a Lille outfit with the seventh-best away record in Ligue 1 this term.
Champions last season, there is no getting away from the fact that it has been a tough campaign for Lille, who find themselves down in 10th position in the table heading into the final straight.
Les Dogues have won 13, drawn 12 and lost 11 of their 36 league games this season to collect 51 points, and they are three points behind ninth-placed Nantes and three ahead of 11th-placed Brest, so it would not be a surprise to see them finish where they currently are.
Lille have only actually won once in the league since the middle of March, losing four of their last five during a disappointing run, including their last two against Troyes and Monaco.
There is not too much to play for other than pride in the closing stages of the campaign, but the players will be keen to give their supporters something to cheer at the end of a difficult season.
Jocelyn Gourvennec‘s side have won six, drawn five and lost seven of their 18 away league games this term, while they suffered a 4-0 defeat to Nice in the reverse match between the two sides earlier this season.
Nice Ligue 1 form:
Nice form (all competitions):
Lille Ligue 1 form:
Hicham Boudaoui scored off the bench against Saint-Etienne, but Galtier could decide to select the same XI that took to the field for the first whistle last time out.
Andy Delort continued his impressive form with a brace on Wednesday, and the 30-year-old should again be joined in the final third of the field by Amine Gouiri, who is currently on a 14-game goal drought.
Nice possible starting lineup:
Benitez; Daniliuc, Todibo, Dante, Bard; Kluivert, Rosario, Lemina, Brahimi; Gouiri, Delort
Lille possible starting lineup:
Jardim; Celik, Fonte, Bradaric, Djalo; Bamba, Sanches, Onana, Gudmundsson; David, Yilmaz
We say: Nice 2-1 Lille
This has all of the makings of a very interesting game of football, and Lille are more than capable of winning on Saturday despite their struggles this season. Nice are on a strong run in the league, though, and we are expecting the home team to put another huge three points on the board.