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Preview: Lyon vs. Lille - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Lyon vs. Lille - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Ligue 1 clash between Lyon and Lille, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Two giants of the Ligue 1 landscape aiming to improve their mid-table standings lock horns at the Groupama Stadium on Sunday as Lyon play host to reigning champions Lille.

Peter Bosz's side were forced to settle for a point against Lens last time out, while Les Dogues lost 2-0 in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Chelsea.

Match preview

Lyon may finally start to be looking at the teams above them rather than over their shoulder in Ligue 1, but as Bosz continues to divide opinion, his side's hopes of engineering a charge for European football are very much hanging in the balance.

Lens have also seen their bid to qualify for continental competition take a downward turn recently but managed to strike first against Les Gones thanks to a fine finish from Jonathan Clauss, but Lyon responded on the stroke of half time through Tino Kadewere's volley in a 1-1 draw.

Bosz's side need not worry about their eighth-placed domestic position should they manage to go all the way in this season's Europa League, but a last-16 battle with Porto will not be a walk in the park by any stretch, and Les Gones sit two points off the top five as things stand.

Should results go their way this weekend, Lyon could suddenly surge up the table into an unfancied Europa Conference League spot, and home is certainly where the heart is for this Gones outfit, who are often a different beast in front of their own fans.

Indeed, Bosz's men enter Sunday's game on a three-match winning streak at the Groupama Stadium in Ligue 1, while only Rennes and Paris Saint-Germain have performed better at home this term, which does not make for pleasant reading for Lille.

Lille can hold their heads up high and say that they went for it at Stamford Bridge - with Renato Sanches in particular catching the eye with an energetic display - but the European nous of the reigning champions got Chelsea over the line.

Kai Havertz headed home the opening goal of the game after just eight minutes of the first leg before Christian Pulisic gave Chelsea a healthy 2-0 advantage before the sides reconvene at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, and it would take something special for Lille to dump the holders out now.

Jocelyn Gourvennec's side have flattered to deceive domestically all season long and left the home crowd frustrated after a 0-0 draw with relegation-threatened Metz last Friday - a result which leaves the French champions down in 11th but still just four points off a potential European place.

A tally of just two wins from their last eight in all tournaments does not embody that of a side with top-five aspirations, though, and they have been nothing if not inconsistent on the road this term, taking points off the likes of Monaco, Rennes and Marseille but slumping to defeats against Clermont, Lorient and Brest.

Lyon and Lille played out a drab 0-0 draw on Les Dogues' turf earlier this season, but not many will forget the champions' storming comeback at the Groupama in April 2021, with Burak Yilmaz inspiring a turnaround from 2-0 down to help his side win 3-2 en route to league glory.

Lyon Ligue 1 form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • D

Lille Ligue 1 form:
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • D

Lille form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • L

Team News

Lyon will welcome the return of Moussa Dembele from a one-game ban this weekend, but he will have a hard time displacing Kadewere after the Zimbabwe international's vital contribution against Lens.

Rayan Cherki is facing a battle to be fit before the season concludes after breaking his foot, while it may also be too soon for Jason Denayer and Lenny Pintor to make their comebacks as well.

Either way, Bosz is unlikely to shuffle the pack too much for the visit of the champions, with Houssem Aouar likely restricted to a bench role as Lucas Paqueta continues in the hole.

As for Lille, Gourvennec will be forced to cope without midfield lynchpin Benjamin Andre due to an accumulation of yellow cards, although Zeki Celik is back from a domestic ban of his own.

The visiting coach must therefore choose two of Sanches, Xeka and Amadou Onana to form the midfield pairing here, and a spot will open up on the right for Angel Gomes to return if Sanches does shift into the centre.

Lille are blessed with an empty infirmary at this moment in time, and it would be a surprise not to see Yilmaz return to the frontline alongside Jonathan David this weekend.

Lyon possible starting lineup:
Lopes; Dubois, Mendes, Lukeba, Emerson; Ndombele, Caqueret; Faivre, Paqueta, Toko Ekambi; Kadewere

Lille possible starting lineup:
Jardim; Celik, Fonte, Botman. Gudmundsson; Sanches, Xeka, Onana, Bamba; David, Yilmaz

We say: Lyon 1-1 Lille

While Lyon have had no trouble picking up points at home, Lille have generally fared relatively well against the big boys away from home this season, so a cagey affair is surely on the menu.

The absence of ever-present Andre could yet prove pivotal for the champions, but Gourvennec's men were not blown away by any means at Stamford Bridge, and we cannot see this encounter ending in anything other than a stalemate.

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