Metz promoted after finishing third last season in Ligue2. It was a very disputed competition and Metz assured their promotion only in the final round.
Metz lost a couple of important players this summer: defenders Metanire and Palomino transferred-out, midfielder Andre Santos left, same as top scorer N’Gbakoto.
Winger NGabakoto played a huge role for Metz last season, scored a total of 13 goals, and even scored the winner in the last round against Tours and assured the promotion. Metz transferred-in winger Jouffre from Lorient to take his place, but they have totally different profiles. Jouffre is a real leader, but more of a provider than a finisher.
In the attempt to be competitive at Ligue 1 level, Metz also brought-in a couple of other experienced players: forward Erding, midfielder Cohade and fullback Signorino.
Unfortunately for Metz, they will have to do without a couple of important players in the first round: defenders Milan and Signorino are highly doubtful, same as winger Jouffre, while experienced midfielder Lejeune will miss for sure.
Lille are already out of Europa League, after being eliminated by the Azeri side Qabala (lost 2-1 on aggregate). It is a disappointing situation, especially since Lille dominated both games and created more scoring opportunities. But there is always the bright side, now they can focus entirely on Ligue1.
For a couple of seasons already (since Hazard left to Chelsea…) Lille are struggling in the attacking phase. They create decent scoring chances (things may change, as it seems that playmaker Boufal may leave), but always have problems when applying the finishing touch.
They have transferred-in striker Eder, the hero from Euro 2016 (scored the goal that gave Portugal the title), but unfortunately one historic goal won’t make Eder a world class talent.
Although Lille lost midfielders Balmont, Nangis and Martin, they have improved in comparison to last season, by transferring-in fullback Palmieri from Bastia and central midfielder Sankhare from Guingamp. Both of them should be regulars and will constantly participate in the attacking phase, compensating the lack of a skilled striker.
It will be a difficult start of the season for Metz who must adapt to a new playing style and build new playing relations. Odds on Lille look really good, and since team news are also in their favor, a bet on Lille is a must. LILLE -0.25 at 1.98
UPDATE: Hosts will miss defenders Udol and Signorino, and midfielders Lejeune and Mandjeck. Th egood news is that winger Jouffre recovered and is available. Lille will miss newly arrived winger De Preville.
Metz: Didillon, Oberhauser – Rivierez, Balliu, Falette, Milan, Basin, Selimovic – Doukouré, Cohade, Mollet, Jouffre, Larriere, Hein, Sarr – Nguette, Diallo, Erding.
Lille: Enyeama, Maignan – Corchia, Palmieri, Béria, Civelli, Soumaoro, Sunzu – Mavuba, Sankharé, Obbadi, Amadou, Amalfitano, Lopes, Bauthéac – Benzia, Eder, Mendes.