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Aug 8, 2021 at 4pm UK
Centonze (31', 52'), Udol (41')
Bronn (56')
Kouyate (56')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Botman (23'), Ikone (81'), Yilmaz (90+6')
Ikone (79'), Yilmaz (83')

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

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

Lille's defence of their Ligue 1 crown begins on Sunday at the Stade Saint-Symphorien, as Frederic Antonetti's Metz open their campaign against the champions in the first weekend.

Les Dogues have already been in competitive action this term - beating Paris Saint-Germain in the Trophee des Champions - while Metz enjoyed a stellar pre-season period.

Match preview

While Frederic Antonetti was welcomed back to the club with open arms after handing the torch to Vincent Hognon due to personal reasons, the 59-year-old ultimately failed to sustain his side's European charge during a disappointing end to the campaign.

A devastating ACL injury to star striker Ibrahima Niane early in the season did not lead Les Grenats to drop their heads, but the fact that the 22-year-old still ended the campaign as Metz's joint-top scorer alongside Farid Boulaya clearly showed where their problems lied.

However, six-goal striker Niane is back fit and firing on all cylinders ahead of the 2021-22 campaign, as Metz seek to improve on last season's 10th-placed standing and potentially stake a claim as outside contenders for a European place.

Antonetti's men may have been undone 1-0 by Borussia Monchengladbach last month, but they ended their pre-season preparations with three consecutive wins against Troyes, UNFP and Montpellier HSC, although the less said about the end of their 2020-21 season the better.

Indeed, Metz only claimed one win from their final 11 games last term - a 5-1 thrashing of whipping boys Dijon away from home - and their winless run at the Stade Saint-Symphorien stretches all the way back to January before a daunting visit of the champions.

A four-way battle for supremacy in the French top flight eventually culminated in Lille and Paris Saint-Germain fighting it out for the crown in the final weekend, as previous contenders Lyon and Monaco fell off the pace during an enthralling race for the title.

As they did so often all season, Lille produced the goods away from home with a 2-1 success at Angers on the final day - a result which saw them dethrone PSG as perennial Ligue 1 champions by a solitary point - and that would be Christophe Galtier's final act in the Dogues dugout before his departure to Nice.

The underwhelming appointment of Jocelyn Gourvennec may have rubbed off onto the players somewhat given that they lost three of their five pre-season games, but Lille quickly put their competitive hat on to claim the season's first piece of silverware in the form of Trophee des Champions, as Xeka's 45th-minute strike prevented PSG from getting their hands on the crown for the ninth year running.

Matching last season's tally of 83 points is a tall order for the reigning champions - whose transfer window has been far more underwhelming than PSG's - but they travel to Metz aiming to keep the momentum going from their 14-game unbeaten run away from home last season.

That run included 2-0 success over Metz in this fixture last season, and Les Grenats are winless in five against the reigning champions, chalking up just one goal during that disappointing run.

Metz pre-season form:
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W

Lille pre-season form:
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L

Team News

Metz have waved goodbye to one of their defensive mainstays from last season in John Boye, who is now an in-demand free agent, while midfielder Victorien Angban and striker Thierry Ambrose have moved to Sochi and KV Oostende respectively.

Teenage prospect Pape Sarr is also still on the books at Les Grenats despite reported interest from Chelsea and Manchester United, but high-profile incomings have been few and far between for the hosts.

Boulaya is expected to complete a move away from the club this summer and was not involved in their recent friendly win over Montpellier, while Niane is set to lead the line as he eyes another explosive start to the campaign.

Lille's Zeki Celik is back in the fold after serving a suspension in the Trophee des Champions, and the right-back - who scored in this fixture last year - should replace the suspended Tiago Djalo in the side, while attacker Luiz Araujo has completed a move to Atlanta United.

Djalo was slapped with a two-game ban following a skirmish with his own teammate Xeka in a friendly against Kortrijk, and with the latter also suspended for this game, Gourvennec will hope to see Renato Sanches shake off a thigh complaint in time.

The former Guingamp coach is not planning to deviate from Les Dogues' highly successful 4-4-2 setup from last term, as Jonathan David and Burak Yilmaz - who struck 27 league goals between them - continue their partnership up front.

Metz possible starting lineup:
Oukidja; Bronn, Kouyate, Udol; Centonze, N'Doram, Maiga, Sarr, Delaine; Niane, Vagner

Lille possible starting lineup:
Jardim; Celik, Fonte, Botman, Reinildo; Ikone, Andre, Sanches, Bamba; David, Yilmaz

We say: Metz 0-2 Lille

Lille's affinity for away clean sheets and victories were key in their successful pursuit of silverware last year, and one can only imagine what victory over PSG in the Trophee des Champions has done for their confidence.

Metz did impress during their pre-season games but are unlikely to experience much joy against the champions, even if Gourvennec is still finding his feet at the club.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

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