Hexagoal Ligue 1 Trophy

Lille prepare for Chelsea with Nice trip

Publish on 27/09/2019 at 02:00 - R. THOMSO


LOSC must keep thoughts of a glamour UEFA Champions League clash with Chelsea out of their minds as they travel to the south coast to face OGC Nice on Saturday evening.

 OGC Nice  -  LOSC 

Lille go to the Allianz Riviera fresh from a 2-0 win at home to RC Strasbourg Alsace in midweek that left Christophe Galtier's team in third place in the table after seven matches, just two points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain.

Victor Osimhen scored the opener for his sixth goal in seven Ligue 1 Conforama appearances, and the Nigerian then set up Loïc Rémy to secure the points in the second half as Les Dogues recorded a fourth consecutive win in front of their own fans at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy this season.

That form should give them plenty of reason to be confident when they welcome Chelsea on Wednesday in the Champions League looking to bounce back from a 3-0 defeat away to Ajax in their opening group game. The visit of the London club will be the first match in the Champions League proper to be played in Lille in almost seven years, and is understandable that excitement is building in the northern city.

Watch: Osimhen scores again as Lille beat Strasbourg

However, Lille have picked up just one point on their travels so far this season and Galtier must keep minds focused for now on this trip to Nice, where Lille have lost in each of the last two seasons. Indeed, LOSC have not beaten Les Aiglonsaway since May 2012 when the likes of Idrissa Gueye and Eden Hazard were still in their ranks.

Don't change a thing?

All eyes will be on Galtier's starting line-up and what alterations he chooses to make after opting for six changes between last weekend's 1-1 draw away at Stade Rennais FC and the midweek victory. Veteran captain José Fonte, Jonathan Bamba and Nice-born midfielder Benjamin André will all hope to return to the side.

Of the midweek changes, Galtier said after the Strasbourg game: "This should unleash a real dynamic within the squad and ensure that nobody is thinking they don't belong in this squad. I didn't rotate the way you might in the round of 64 of the Coupe de France."

Keen to emphasise the importance of maintaining high standards in the league, the coach added: "The league is the flagship competition for us so we have to keep picking up points and make sure we are fighting up at the top of the table for as long as possible."

Ouch for Ounas

Midweek results allowed Lille to climb above Nice, who are reeling from a 3-1 defeat at the hands of AS Monaco in the Côte d'Azur derby on Tuesday. That was despite Patrick Burner bringing them level at the Stade Louis II with his first senior goal, and they also lost recent loan signing Adam Ounas to a knee injury that will keep him out until the upcoming international break.

Any disappointment in the Nice ranks needs to be tempered by just how young Patrick Vieira's side is - their starting line-up in the principality had an average age of just 22.2. Nevertheless, they have lost three of their last five outings and will be eager to get back on track here in front of their own fans.

Watch: Nice beaten in derby

"Results have been good in the first seven games but there is still disappointment. We will keep working hard and looking to improve. This team has great room for progression and we will come back and be a better side," Vieira said.

While new signings just as Kasper Dolberg, Alexis Claude-Maurice and Stanley Nsoki still require time to bed in, one area of concern for Nice is their defence - they have conceded 11 goals in their first seven matches, the most of any team above the bottom six. How they could do with getting back central defensive pair Christophe Hérelle and Dante. The former is recovering from a knee injury while the Brazilian, a former Lille player, has had an ankle problem.

Nice will be looking to avenge their 4-0 thumping in Lille the last time these sides met, back in February. The visitors have had summer signing Timothy Weah on the sidelines for the last month.

Probable teams

Nice: Benítez; Burner, Pelmard, Nsoki, Sarr; Lusamba, Cyprien (c), Lees-Melou; Ganago, Dolberg, Atal

Lille: Maignan; Pied, Fonte, Soumaoro (c), Reinildo; Araújo, André, Soumare, Bamba; Osimhen, Rémy