Victor Osimhen and LOSC Lille will look to extend their unbeaten home record and three-game winning streak to consolidate a podium place when Montpellier Hérault SC come to the Stade Pierre Mauroy on Friday.
LOSC Lille - Montpellier Hérault SC
LOSC are the only Ligue 1 Conforama team yet to lose a match on their own turf this season, and Osimhen has been one of the princpal reasons for that run. All nine of the Nigeria international's strikes have come at home, tying him with Robert Lewandowski, Ciro Immobile and Lionel Messi in the category across Europe's top five leagues this season.
Osimhen watched from the bench as Lille rounded off their UEFA Champions League group stage campaign with defeat at Chelsea on Tuesday, but will return to the starting XI along with Jose Fonte and Benjamin André, both of whom were rested in midweek, while goalkeeper Mike Maignan — substituted due to injury at Stamford Bridge — will also be available as Christophe Galtier looks for his team to wipe out the disappointment of their European campaign.
"If I had to do it all over again, I'd do it differently in terms of the players' profiles, but in the same set-up. We weren't ruthless enough in both penalty areas. That's a lesson we must learn," said Galtier, who also welcomes back Adama Soumaoro to face Montpellier.
"They're a really tough team to play. I saw their game against PSG and they played very well at 11 against 11. They've been playing very well under Michel [Der Zakarian] for the last three years. Their system could appear to be very defensive, but they've improved each season. They're really difficult to beat, and I'm sure they'll be in the fight for a European place."
Montpeller come into the penultimate league game of 2019 in tenth place, but they are just four points behind their third-placed hosts. Like Lille, their challenge is based on their excellent home form as they head north having failed to win any of their last nine away matches.
"It's an important match for us. We can close on Lille, climb the table, and start a run away from home, but it'll be difficult against a really good side," said forward Andy Delort, who will be hoping to improve on his team's record of failing to score on five of their last nine league trips.
"For me, it's just a question of that little push to start us off. I think we just need to win once away from home and mentally everything will change."
Michel Der Zakarian's men showed great character in going toe-to-toe at home to Paris Saint-Germain last weekend. They were leading 1-0 until Pedro Mendes was sent off 18 minutes from time, which was the cue for PSG to score three times in the closing stages and inflict a first defeat in seven top-filght games.
"We have a good squad with players in different states of form, which is why we have some ups and downs at times. We've had a lot of good home peformances, but we're dropping points away. We need a big performance. We're going to Lille with the aim of battling and putting on a good display," said Der Zakarian.
"Lille are on a good run of wins, it'll be tough. It's a good challenge for us."
Lille: Maignan - Celik, Fonte (c), Gabriel, Bradaric - Sanches, André, Soumaré, Bamba - Ikoné, Osimhen
Montpellier: Rulli - Le Tallec, Hilton (c), Congré - Souquet, Chotard, Savanier, Oyongo - Mollet -Laborde, Delort