Gazelec Ajaccio v Lille: Ligue 1 Preview: Week 34
An intriguing encounter on Saturday evening as Gazelec Ajaccio host an in-form Lille. Both teams still have plenty to play for. The home side will be desperate for points as they look to keep alive their hopes of staying in Ligue 1 for a second season. Frederic Antonetti and his Lille team meanwhile have continued to move away from the bottom end of the table and now look poised to make an end of season push for a European place.
After a fantastic run of form to finish 2015, 2016 has very much been a reality hit for le Gaz with only one solitary league win. It’s a run of results that has seen them become entrenched in a relegation fight as they currently sit in the dreaded 18th place. They seem to have lost that gung-ho attitude that served them so well towards the end of last season. With the spark gone, it’s only thanks to the just as poor form or the likes of Reims and Montpellier that Gazelec haven’t been cut adrift. The vastly experienced David Ducourtioux will be missing from the game due to a virus and they will also have to do without midfielders Alexandre Coeff and Amos Youga on Saturday night. Good news though comes in the return of defensive powerhouse Kader Mangane. As ever with Gazelec it seems, Mohamed Larbi will be looked at to provide the spark of quality needed if they are to get something from the game – if you fancy Gazelec’s chances to cause an upset head over here to bet.
There’s a feel-good mood sweeping through Lille at the moment, something not many expected when Antonetti took over back at the end of November last year. A first game loss to Angers saw les Dogues languishing in 18th place. Since that defeat though, only runaway champions PSG have collected more points than the Northerners. Credit must go to Antonetti who initially brought out the best in forward Yassine Benzia before the winter break. In early February, Antonetti signed Portuguese striker Eder on loan from Swansea City. A move that has proved to be the difference in recent weeks as Lille make that unexpected push up the table. Five goals and three assists in only eight games is terrific form from the on loan forward and has helped enormously as they went from 14th to their current 7th position, only three points off 5th place Rennes. On the back of five straight wins, Saturday night should see them make it six and really make them a strong contender for a top five finish. The only worry for Lille is in defence with Renato Civelli suspended for his silly shove on Ricardo Carvalho last week and Marko Basa out through injuty. A centre back pairing of Stoppila Sunzu and Adama Soumaoro could therefore be called upon.
All things point to a Lille win here and with Antonetti currently getting the absolute best from his squad, this certainly seems the likely outcome.
Prediction: Gazelec 0-2 Lille
LIGUE 1 PREDICTIONS