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Mar 14, 2021 at 4.05pm UK

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Preview: Monaco vs. Lille - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Monaco vs. Lille - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Ligue 1 clash between Monaco and Lille, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

The pick of the fixtures in gameweek 29 of the Ligue 1 season takes place at the Stade Louis II on Sunday afternoon as fourth-placed Monaco play host to league leaders Lille.

Seven points currently separate the two title rivals in the table, and the result of this encounter could end up proving pivotal in the race for top-flight glory.

Match preview

After a simply magnificent showing against champions Paris Saint-Germain - which culminated in a 2-0 win in the capital - it was difficult to see where Monaco's hot streak could be brought to a halt, but Strasbourg and an inspired Frederic Guilbert ended up sending shockwaves throughout the division at the Stade de la Meinau last time out.

Following a goalless 90 minutes, Aston Villa loanee Guilbert was allowed to charge forward unchallenged by the Monaco defence in injury time, and Niko Kovac's side soon witnessed the right-back crash a shot into the bottom corner past Benjamin Lecomte, who arguably should have done better as Les Monegasques' 13-game unbeaten run across all competitions came to a surprise end.

Lille, PSG and Lyon all took advantage of Monaco's slip-up to steer clear in the race for silverware, and Kovac's side now find themselves seven points adrift of top spot and five adrift of third-placed Lyon, so while they cannot rise any higher up the rankings this weekend, a crucial victory would certainly throw the cat among the pigeons.

Kovac's normally reliable crop managed to put their humbling defeat to Strasbourg behind them last weekend as they dumped Nice out of the Coupe de France with a 2-0 win, during which Kevin Volland scored his 14th goal of the season and Ruben Aguilar also got in on the act, and Monaco have only lost one of their 14 games on home soil this season - going unbeaten in their last six.

Even though Monaco's potent attackers were nullified by Strasbourg earlier in March, the hosts have scored at least twice in nine of their last 10 home matches - including their last six on the bounce - and with Volland and Wissam Ben Yedder desperate to reignite their goalscoring touches in this top-of-the-table clash, Lille and their often-impenetrable defence are sure to be stretched to the maximum at the Stade Louis II.

Due to their early exit from the Europa League, Lille have enjoyed the luxury of a full week off ahead of their trip to Monaco, so the Dogues faithful may feel that every cloud has a silver lining after Ajax sent them packing in a tournament in which they were never expected to prevail.

Two defeats to the Eredivisie giants and league draws with Strasbourg and Brest have rocked Lille's confidence slightly, but they got their title bid firmly back on track with a 2-0 triumph over Marseille last time out in the league, although they had to wait until the 90th minute before Jonathan David netted a quickfire brace in a nervy but crucial win.

With the 21-year-old finally showcasing his best qualities in the top flight - boasting seven goals from his last nine games - Les Dogues remain on their perch with 10 games left to play, although the gap at the top has been narrowed to two points following their momentum-killing draws with Brest and Strasbourg.

With PSG and their superior goal difference now closing in, Lille travel to the Stade Louis II on a 10-game unbeaten run in Ligue 1 - winning eight of them - while Christophe Galtier's men have also come up trumps in their last seven away matches in the top flight, and another win on the road would see them equal Marseille and PSG's record of eight consecutive away wins - set in 2009 and 2017 respectively.

Lille warmed up for this game with a routine 3-1 win over GFC Ajaccio in the Coupe de France, and goals from David and Yusuf Yazici propelled Lille to a 2-1 victory over Monaco in the reverse fixture back in December, but Les Monegasques have only lost two of their last 13 against the league leaders, who were thrashed 5-1 at the Stade Louis II last season.

Monaco Ligue 1 form:
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • L

Monaco form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W

Lille Ligue 1 form:
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W

Lille form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • W

Team News

Monaco will have to make do without suspended winger Krepin Diatta for the visit of Lille, but one of Aleksandr Golovin or Sofiane Diop were always expected to get the nod over the Senegal international.

Kovac has moved away from his traditional 4-4-2 in favour of a three-at-the-back system in recent weeks, and that system did not bear fruit against Strasbourg, but it did work to perfection against PSG and the hosts are likely to stick with it for the visit of another title rival.

Aurelien Tchouameni lasted a little over 35 minutes in the cup before succumbing to back pain, but the midfielder's issue is unlikely to keep him out of this crunch match.

Lille do not have any players suspended for this fixture, but Galtier will not be barking orders from the touchline after he was slapped with a ban for comments made towards the referee after the draw with Brest.

Galtier's absence is the only concern for the league leaders, who are expected to welcome inspirational forward Burak Yilmaz back to the squad, but he is unlikely to be risked from the opening whistle.

The likes of David, Mike Maignan, Renato Sanches, Jonathan Bamba, Jonathan Ikone and Jose Fonte will all return to the fold here after being rested in the Coupe de France.

Monaco possible starting lineup:
Lecomte; Maripan, Disasi, Badiashile; Aguilar, Fofana, Tchouameni, Henrique; Golovin, Volland; Ben Yedder

Lille possible starting lineup:
Maignan; Celik, Fonte, Botman, Reinildo; Ikone, Andre, Sanches, Bamba; David, Yazici

We say: Monaco 1-0 Lille

Kovac's new system at Monaco has limited his side's attacking prowess, but their defensive resilience has undoubtedly improved, notwithstanding their shock loss to Strasbourg. Furthermore, while Lille's top-flight record this season is nothing short of sensational, they are not renowned for blowing teams away with goal-laden performances.

This mouthwatering top-of-the-table bout could go either way depending on which set of attackers find their shooting boots, but Lille could struggle to get a foothold in the game without the presence of Galtier on the touchlines, so we are backing Monaco to blow the title race wide open once again with a narrow triumph.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data

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