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Preview: Marseille vs. Lille - prediction, team news, lineups
16/01/2022 13:23:02

The reigning champions meet the title outsiders at the Orange Velodrome in Sunday evening's Ligue 1 clash as Marseille play host to Lille.

The hosts' first league fixture of 2022 saw them run out 1-0 winners over Bordeaux, while Les Dogues' battle with Lorient was postponed due to COVID-19.

We say: Marseille 1-1 Lille

Both Marseille and Lille appeared to have turned a corner following their autumnal struggles, but the champions' inability to shut the back door away from home could cost them dear once again.

Gourvennec's side always possess a goal threat of their own with David and Yilmaz partnering up top, though, and we just cannot separate the two improving giants on this occasion.

Match preview

Despite recovering a hefty number of their COVID-affected contingent before the visit of Marseille, Bordeaux were still no match for Les Olympiens, who ran out 1-0 winners at the Matmut Atlantique last Friday night.

With 37 minutes on the clock, Cengiz Under took advantage of Benoit Costil's dreadful attempt at a clearance to race through and score the opener - his fifth Ligue 1 goal of the season - although the Turkey international was denied his brace in the second period as Costil made amends with a strong save down low.

However, a fifth win from six in all competitions kept up Marseille's perfect start to 2022 as they seek to keep their fleeting title hopes alive, with Jorge Sampaoli's men currently occupying third spot in the rankings - level on points with Nice and 11 below Paris Saint-Germain - both of whom have played a game more.

A return to the promised land of the Champions League surely beckons for this Marseille side - who for now must prepare for their Europa Conference League battle with Qarabag next month - and they welcome Lille to the Orange Velodrome having lost just one of their last 11 in Ligue 1.

Sampaoli's side have not always turned up the heat in front of their own supporters, though - winning just two of their last seven at home in the top flight - and a much-improved Lille outfit will be sure to pounce on any Olympiens insecurities.

With multiple members of the Merlus camp contracting COVID-19 over the past couple of weeks, the decision was ultimately made to postpone Lorient's battle with Lille, forcing the champions to wait a little longer for their first victory of 2022.

The reigning Ligue 1 champions ended 2021 unbeaten in 11 games across all tournaments, but they began the New Year on the wrong foot, bowing out of the Coupe de France to Lens on penalties after throwing away a two-goal lead in normal time, with Jean Onana and Seko Fofana both bagging braces.

Cup fortunes aside, Lille managed to take 10 points from the last 12 on offer in Ligue 1 before the Christmas break - as well as going without defeat since October - with that upturn in fortunes seeing them sit firmly in mid-table obscurity in 10th position.

Lille can forget about any lingering hopes of back-to-back titles, but they only sit three points adrift of fourth-placed Rennes in their bid to qualify for Europe once more, especially as Jocelyn Gourvennec may not be feeling too optimistic about his side's chances against Chelsea in the last-16 of this season's Champions League.

Les Dogues travel to the Orange Velodrome having failed to keep a clean sheet away from home all season in Ligue 1, although a Jonathan David brace helped them see off Marseille 2-0 earlier in the season - their third successive game without defeat versus Les Olympiens.

Team News

Marseille duo Pape Gueye and Bamba Dieng - who has been serving a lengthy suspension anyway - are away on Africa Cup of Nations duty, while Jordan Amavi has left to join Nice on loan.

Gerson, Alvaro Gonzalez and Arkadiusz Milik all returned positive COVID-19 tests before the Bordeaux win, with the latter's absence leading Marseille to swoop for Cedric Bakambu on a free transfer.

The former Villarreal man may or may not be ready for his debut here, but Valentin Rongier and Steve Mandanda are once again expected to miss out due to foot and ankle injuries respectively.

As for Lille, Gourvennec will be hopeful of recovering David, Xeka, Domagoj Bradaric and Benjamin Andre from coronavirus infection here, with the quartet all testing positive before the defeat to Lens on January 4.

Burak Yilmaz will return up top after missing the Coupe de France defeat through suspension, but Timothy Weah and Leo Jardim remain absent, and it remains to be seen if Zeki Celik will shake off muscular discomfort in time.

Tiago Djalo is ready to deputise on the right-hand side once again if required, with Sven Botman still staying put in the heart of defence after Newcastle United reportedly saw a bid rejected for the Dutch centre-back.

Marseille possible starting lineup:

Lopez; Saliba, Caleta-Car, Peres; Lirola, Kamara, Guendouzi, De la Fuente; Under, Payet; Bakambu

Lille possible starting lineup:

Grbic; Djalo, Fonte, Botman, Reinildo; Gomes, Andre, Onana, Bamba; David, Yilmaz

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