PREVIEW: PSG v Lille OSC: Coupe de la Ligue FINAL

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On Saturday evening, Ligue 1 takes a rest as Paris Saint-Germain and Lille do battle for the third domestic trophy of the season – if you count the Trophée des Champions (you shouldn’t – Ed). Frederic Antonetti’s in-form Lille side take on the champions and cup holders at the Stade de France and the “home” side will obviously start as favourites, but recent results have shown that Lille must be respected.

To get a better insight into both teams’ chances and run to the final, FFW spoke to our very own Editor-in-Chief and self-confessed Lille fan, Andrew Gibney and creator of the 1970 PSG website, Ross Mackiewicz. First up, last year’s winners.

How will PSG likely line up for Saturday’s final?

Laurent Blanc’s teams are fairly predictable for the big games but he has a few injury concerns heading into the final on Saturday.

Thiago Motta has been struggling with a thigh problem, which made him come off at the Etihad last week against Manchester City. David Luiz missed the win over Lorient in the week due to an ankle injury but should be at least in the squad. Little Marco Verratti continues to progress on the fitness trail. Rumours are rife that he will make the squad for tomorrow. Will he start? No, it’s too soon, especially as he’s been out of action since the back end of February.

Salvatore Sirigu put in a sterling performance to help PSG qualify for the final of the Coupe de France and he will be in between the sticks again against les Dogues.

One of the big questions is who will start out of Lucas and Edinson Cavani? The latter has forced his way back into the fold in recent weeks after the coach had preferred Lucas. But, with Cavani starting against Lorient, Blanc may opt for the Brazilian this time.

Sirigu, Aurier, Silva, Luiz/Marquinhos, Maxwell, Rabiot, Motta/Stambouli, Matuidi, Di Maria, Lucas, Ibra.

How did PSG get to the final?

We have been lucky with the draw to be honest by having all our games at the Parc des Princes. It has not been as straightforward as it suggests either, especially at home to Saint-Etienne where we needed a late goal from Cavani. For a large while that game looked poised for extra-time and who knows what may have transpired, especially if it went to penalties. It was a drab game in truth so it was fortunate we got the goal when we did.

Best Moment of PSG’s cup run?

There has not been one standout moment as such but I would say that Angel di Maria’s form in this run has been pivotal. After the winter break his performance levels went up a notch and he was instrumental during all three league cup games during January. One moment in particular was the counter-attack he orchestrated against Lyon to set Lucas Moura up for the winner. That all came via the Argentine who has been a superstar this season.

Who is the PSG player to watch on Saturday?

Again, I will have to say Di Maria. This will be his first major cup final in a Parisian shirt and I am sure he will look to set it alight. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been grabbing the headlines for his goals but ADM has taken this team to another level. Genuine, world-class talent!

Prediction?

I am going to be biased of course but this will not be easy for PSG. Lille have really turned their season around and are in stunning form of late. The contests in the league this season have been close affairs too with a 0-0 stalemate and 0-1 win for 10-man PSG at the start of the season. I sense another close contest again so I am going to say PSG will just edge this 2-1.

They say it’s the hope that kills you and for Andrew, Lille’s recent form must make this game seem winnable…

How will Lille likely line up for Saturday’s final?

Since taking over from Herve Renard, Frederic Antonetti has had most of his success playing 4-3-3. The full-backs are allowed to bomb forward – you try stopping Djibril Sidibe – and it is a huge feature of their attack.

Ibrahim Amadou has taken over from Rio Mavuba as the deepest of the three midfielders, allowing the club captain a little more freedom to get forward. The last spot will be between Florent Balmont and the excellent Mounir Obbadi.

Upfront, Portuguese loanee Eder will be the focal point of the attack, with him linking up with Sofiane Boufal and most likely ex-OM man, Morgan Amalfitano on the right.

Boufal likes to drift and find space, his link up play with Eder has been excellent.

Enyeama – Corchia, Soumaoro, Basa/Sunzu, Sidibé – Amadou, Obbadi, Mavuba/Balmont – Amalfitano, Éder, Boufal

How did Lille get to the final?

Lille started off with a 2-1 come from behind win over Troyes at the Stade Pierre Mauroy. 1-0 down at half-time, goals from Stoppila Sunzu and Sehrou Guirassy saved their blushes in October.

Les Dogues then snuck past Ligue 2 side Laval with a 1-0 win, Sidibé popping up with the winner 10 minutes from time.

It wasn’t much better in the quarter-finals when an awful match at the Stade du Roudourou in Guingamp finished goalless after 120 minutes and Lille, with the help of Vincent Enyeama won 4-2 on penalties.

Best Moment of Lille’s cup run?

It wasn’t a complete shock that Lille beat Bordeaux to reach the final. Playing at home, against Willy Sagnol’s under-performing side, but it’s the fact that Antonetti’s men scored FIVE times. It was quite phenomenal.

Yassine Benzia’s seventh-minute opener was levelled by Clement Chantome and it looked like we were in for a close game. However, two goals in the last five minutes of the half put the sword to les Girondins and then Eric Bautheac made it four and on as a substitute, Boufal lobbed Jerome Prior to put the icing on a very delicious but unexpected cake.

Who is the Lille player to watch on Saturday?

Eder is the man of the moment. Five goals and three assists in the league since joining at the end of January. He has given the team a whole new dimension, he’s bringing people into play, holding the ball up and finding space with his pace, power and movement.

It will be a tough game against Thiago Silva & Co. but Lille have to believe he can make a difference.

Prediction?

It’s the hope that kills you when you play PSG. It will be tight. If Lille can stop the holders from scoring, anything is possible. Let’s go for a repeat of the 2011 Coupe de France final. Lille to win 1-0 – second half goal from Boufal.

Both Ross and Andrew (watch out for his Scotland flag) will be at the Stade de France for Saturday’s final – we wish them all the best – not sure they could both take penalties.

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