Montpellier were often in difficulty last round away at Lorient and in the end the 0-0 draw was a positive result.
In comparison to previous rounds Montpellier’s midfielders reduced rythm and failed to create dangerous opportunities. Furthermore central midfielder Martin who is involved in most of Montpellier’s actions suffered an injury and most likely will sit out.
On paper Montpellier use 2 defensive minded midfielders (Marveaux and Sanson) but in reality only Marveaux helps fellow defenders as Sanson’s attacking instincts kick in and drag him upfront.
Montpellier started 2015 in a great manner and got some excellent results but it seems they are slowly fading and can’t keep up the same rythm.
Although they stood ground admirably at times, Lille didn’t really had many chances in-front of PSG in the midweek Cup game (lost 1-0).
Even if both central defenders Basa and Kjaer are back in the squad (after injuries and suspensions) it seems that lately Lille are a bit negligent at man-marking. At the moment bad placement seems to be Lille’s biggest problem in defense.
Coach Girard doesn’t fully trust play-maker Lopes and doesn’t let him play the entire game, but still Lopes seems to be in good form and his dribbling moves often create numerical superiority.
Lille’s poor run is no real reason to jump on Montpellier to win. Guests are still highly organized and with Montpellier’s midfielders dropping form it will be difficult to create open spaces. A very balanced game is foreseen with neither side adventuring upfront until someone opens the score.
UPDATE: Hosts’ midfielder Saihi is back from the African Cup of Nations
Montpellier: Jourdren, Ligali – Congré, Hilton, Br.Dabo, El Kaoutari, Deplagne, Saint-Ruf – S.Marveaux, Saihi, Lasne, Sanson, Skhiri – Mounier, Bérigaud, Barrios, S.Camara, Bakar, Cornette
Lille: Enyeama, Elana – Kjaer, Corchia, D.Sidibé, Basa, Rozehnal – Mavuba, I.Gueye, Balmont, Ad.Traoré, Delaplace, Boufal, R.Lopes – N.Roux, Origi, Koubemba, R.Mendes, A.Diaby