Laurent Blanc will hope his men will avoid complacency as PSG welcome Lille to the Parc des Princes on Saturday evening.
With a 24 point gap over second-placed Monaco, and 22 wins out of their first 25 games, Les Parisiens have, for all intents and purposes already won the Ligue 1 title. At this point, the capital club are now vying to become the first side to complete an entire Ligue 1 campaign without defeat, but they have even bigger ambitions: to make it to the final of this season’s Champions League, something that has eluded them especially over the past few seasons.
Despite having suffered three consecutive losses during the quarter-finals, the club’s executive board opted to extend the French tactician’s contract till 2018 recently, and with a re-match versus Chelsea coming up on the horizon, Blanc will be expected to rest quite a few players for this game. Top goal-scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was instrumental in the team’s 3-0 win over Lyon in their Coupe de France midweek will not likely feature, which will give Edinson Cavani – who has long vocalized his frustration at being played out of position – a rare chance to feature in his preferred center forward role. Defender Thiago Silva is another that will play little to no part in the team’s upcoming match versus Lille.
Marco Verratti, Javier Pastore and Grégory Van der Wiel are all still recovering after missing the Lyon fixture and they will be hoping to be match fit for the upcoming game against Chelsea. As such, Blanc could give them some game-time, but will be wary of pushing his players too hard to avoid them suffering a relapse.
Frederic Antonetti will certainly hope to take advantage of a modified PSG side, but in all honesty, the hosts will have the upper hand regardless of if Blanc opts to give some of the fringe players a run-out. For starters, Lille have not beaten the capital powerhouse since April 1996, and they will be facing a side that are undefeated in their last 16 home games against them. In addition, the visitors have been quite poor on the road, having lost or drawn all but one of their past 12 away games and have not been prolific in front of goal; in fact, with 20 goals so far, they have the second-worst attack, with only Troyes having fared worse. And given that their opponents have conceded just 12, Les Dogues will truly have their work cut out for them.
With just one win in their last five games, and presently sitting just four points away from the drop zone, Vincent Enyeama – who was once widely regarded as one of the world’s best goalkeepers – has performed admirably this season, despite his team’s overall struggles. Although they have scored just 20, they have conceded the same amount, with only PSG bettering their defensive efforts. The now-retired Nigerian international will have to be on his toes as he and his defense will be tested over and over again as the hosts have scored at least two goals in their past 19 matches in Ligue 1.
Will we see another routine win for Blanc’s men? Or will Lille be able to take advantage of a side that may be distracted by bigger things ahead to nick at least a point – or even cause an upset?
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