Lille bid to kick-start campaign
LOSC Lille face Evian-Thonon-Gaillard FC at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy on Wednesday in the first of two home games in four days that they hope can help them finally kick-start their campaign.
LOSC Lille - Evian-Thonon-Gaillard FC
After starting 2015 with a 2-0 defeat at SC Bastia in the round of 64 of the Coupe de France, Lille's fragile confidence is in desperate need of a lift as they prepare to entertain Evian in a game that was postponed in November when the Stade Pierre-Mauroy was transformed into a tennis venue to be used for the Davis Cup final.
René Girard's side are currently languishing in 13th place in the Ligue 1 table with the worst attack in the division (just 15 goals scored in 18 games). They are just two points better off than Evian, who sit in the relegation zone, although they are targeting wins against Pascal Dupraz's men and then at home against SM Caen on Saturday as they try to climb back into the top half of the table.
"We were below average in the first half of the season," admitted Girard. "We are lacking aggression and confidence and we need to find these ingredients. We can do much better with these players. After Wednesday night we will be halfway through the season. It is important that we get to 24 points, which would not be such a dramatic total. The players are experiencing a few doubts. They are not getting the breaks and they have been decimated but they are not giving up."
Origi set to feature
Not including penalty shoot-out victories, Lille have recorded just one win in 17 games since the start of October. Evian, meanwhile, lost their last three league outings before the winter break but started 2015 with a 3-0 Coupe de France win at amateur side Bobigny last Saturday.
Playing down his side's chances, Dupraz said: "Lille are a superior side to us and are temporarily in a bad position in the table. They will put that right, but the only thing I'm hoping is that they don't do so until after this game. I hope that we can put on a good showing against them and that René Girard will say we are an annoying team to play against. That will mean we have taken something from the game."
The visitors come into the match with a host of players missing, with Clarck Nsikulu suspended, Nicolas Benezet injured and Djakaridja Koné, Jonathan Mensah and Cédric Mongongu all now off to the Africa Cup of Nations. Things are little better for Lille, though, with Pape Souaré, Idrissa Gueye and Ryan Mendes all off to the CAN. Divock Origi will feature as LOSC look to improve on their poor record in front of goal.
Lille: Enyeama; Corchia, Kjaer, Basa, Sidibé; Mavuba, Balmont, Meïté, Rodelin (or Traoré); Roux, Origi (or Frey)
Evian TG: Leroy; Abdallah, Angoula, Cambon, Sabaly; Sorlin (c), Tejeda, Sougou, Wass, Barbosa; Nielsen