In-spite the close score St Etienne had an easy game last week away at Metz (won 3-2).
St Etienne were in a continuous movement and opponents had major difficulties in keeping up with them. As a result they were permanently in the lead and there was never the question of the winner.
Wingers Hamouma and Gradel made an excellent game and showed increased playing appetite. Hamouma delivered 3 assists and Gradel scored once and constantly took opponents out of play.
In defense Sall and Baysse are still out injured and Theophile Catherine played as a central defender. He is an experienced player and even if he feels more comfortable on the sides he had a decent performance last week (with only a few minor exceptions).
Even with a couple of sidelined players Lille outplayed Rennes from all points of view last round (won 3-0).
Play-maker Lopes was out suspended (will return this round), fullbacks Beria and Sidibe injured, same as midfielders Mavuba and Delaplace (most probably they will all miss this round as well).
Seeing that both fullbacks are injured coach Girard will once again be forced to start with 18 years old Pavard in the lineup. Last week against Rennes he performed surprisingly well and stood ground confidently in front of experienced players like Toivonen and Pedro Henrique.
This will be a difficult encounter with both sides in good form and hoping to continue the positive run. Although bookies don’t seem to agree Lille may have a small advantage because of a better organization.
UPDATE: Hosts welcome back fullback Tabanou and midfielder Diomande. Lille also welcome back two players, midfielder Delaplace and play-maker Lopes.
St Etienne: Ruffier, Valette – Théophile-Catherine, L.Perrin, Clerc, Tabanou, Baysse, B.Karamoko – Clément, Corgnet, Nguemo, Lemoine, Diomandé – Gradel, Erding, Hamouma, Monnet-Paquet, Van Wolfswinkel
Lille: Enyeama, Elana – Corchia, Kjaer, Basa, Rozehnal, Pavard – I.Gueye, Balmont, Delaplace, S.Meïté, Ad.Traoré, Boufal, R.Lopes – Roux, Origi, Abd.Diaby, R.Mendes, Koubemba