Before Ligue 1 heads into their winter break, one more round of games will be played starting on Friday. The game that will be most watched and given the greatest attention will take place on Sunday evening in the late game, as the team in first place currently in the league standings host the team currently in third. Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) currently hold a four-point lead over third place LOSC Lille, with PSG having won 43 points through 18 games and Lille having won 39 points.
The showdown at the Parc des Princes represents just more than three points and a chance for Lille to get within one point of PSG right before the winter break or for PSG to extend their lead over Lille to seven points and create some distance. For Lille, a win would mean that they establish themselves as legitimate contenders for the league title coming back from the winter break, while for PSG, a win would all but shut the door on any chance that Lille might have in believing they can somehow overcome and dethrone the big spending club.
Coming into the game, one area where Lille could be said to hold the edge over PSG is in their ability to defend. Lille have only conceded six goals so far in 18 games and that is in large part due to the fact that they have been able to field the same starting four defenders while in goal. Vincent Enyeama has proven to be a wall and as a result, this is the big reason why Lille have only conceded six goals to date in league play. There is no question that they will need to show said defensive fortitude on Sunday night, as they will be tested by the best attack in Ligue 1.
After a slow start to his reign as PSG coach where he struggled to figure out his best starting 11 and his best tactical formation, Laurent Blanc has settled in and in the process, found his best starting 11 and settled on a 4-1-2-3 formation that has seen PSG score 42 league goals, 12 more than the second most prolific scoring team in AS Monaco, who have scored 30 goals to date. While the money that PSG have and can spend on players has allowed Blanc to be able to tinker and field quality teams, the fact that he has been able to find a formation and tactics that take advantage of the talent he can field is a great credit to the work he has put in when many, including myself, expected his early season struggles to continue.
In a game that pits the league’s best offense versus the best defense, it will no doubt be interesting to see how well Lille’s defensive play can hold up and see if they will be able to slowdown a potent PSG. That alone makes the game a must watch without factoring in that its a matchup between first and third.
Come kickoff on Sunday, it is very likely that both will be staring at AS Monaco, but that does not take away from the fact that PSG–with a win–can deal a psychological blow to Lille’s title aspirations. A win for Lille would let PSG continue to worry about two teams battling it for the league title in the second half of the season.