Match preview: Lille v Paris Saint Germain

OSC Lille v Paris Saint Germain, Ligue 1, April 12, 2009

Forget the Bundesliga, the Ligue 1 title race could be the most interesting for the first time in years. Six points separate first and sixth place and with eight weeks left all the teams near the top will feel they have a chance.

Lille have been one of the major surprises of the campaign and PSG, after making several changes last summer will see this game as crucial, since both sides are on 55 points, four behind leaders Lyon.

Summer signing Ludovic Giuly, one of the catalysts behind PSG’s fine form said earlier this week: “Next Sunday, we’re going to Lille and that is going to be a crucial point in the season.”

The Parisian giants can be a little more optimistic about their defence after their 2-1 win over Nice last week. In their previous two games (against Toulouse and Marseille) they had let in seven goals. “I think that we were committed in the tackles”, said PSG striker, Guillaume Hoarau after the victory, “it was important for us to refined some solidity.”

Crucially, PSG will be buoyed by the expected return of Mamadou Sakho to the defence. The 19-year-old central defender, twisted an ankle against Nancy in Week 26, and though he returned for the 3-1 defeat to Marseille in Week 28, the youngster had failed to fully recover from the initial injury.

PSG will be relying on right back Ceara to play well, his job will be to stop Michel Bastos (pictured), the Brazilian with the best left foot in Ligue 1. Bastos grabbed his 13th goal of the season against Nantes and has been involved in 24 of the 43 goals his team scored this season so far (13 goals and 11 assists).

“Personally, I’m happy I scored again. That’s the sixth time in a row in all competitions that I’ve found the net, and that’s something that hasn’t happened to me since the start of my career, we’ll have to put in another good display against PSG at home next week. We know we’re strong at home, but we’ll have to show that we are once again,” said the Brazilian.

Lille is one of the strongest teams in France at home. At the Metropole this campaign they have beaten both Bordeaux and Lyon and have only lost once, their first home game of the season against Le Mans.

Lille will need Robert Vittek to continue his great form of the last few weeks. The Slovak international striker has scored three goals in the last four games and has started to settle in at Lille. He has struck up an excellent understanding with Bastos, who has created three of Vittek’s goals, while the Slovak has set up one of the Brazilian’s 13 strikes this season.

In the first meeting between these teams, PSG won from a single goal scored by Ludovic Giuly.

101gg predicts: Lille 3 – PSG 2 (28/1)

Full match odds here.