Fifth-place Lille playing 13th-place Montpellier is the first of seven matches taking place as part of this Sunday’s Ligue 1 action, with bottom-half La Paillade surely making the long journey up to the north of France with some apprehension.
Montpellier have a poor record against Lille having not beaten Les Dogues at all since 2017, and have not won at Lille’s Stade Pierre-Mauroy since 2011. A win is much needed for Montpellier here, especially considering that they face a slew of further tough fixtures in their seven remaining matches of the season after this weekend.
Although Montpellier are currently in a solid midtable position in 13th place, Montpellier’s tough fixture list after this weekend will see them play against six of their remaining seven matches against teams who are not only above them in the table, but also all in the top half as well. And although they are six points ahead of 14th-place Nantes (who are part of the relegation battle) and seem to have done enough to have secured safety, with those tough upcoming fixtures in mind, there is a real danger of Montpellier actually being dragged into the relegation battle. Michel De Zakarian’s men will know that a win this weekend is crucial, as it should be sufficient in providing them with enough of a safety net from the relegation battle for the remainder of this season.
For fifth-place Lille, their league position is currently enough for them to secure a place in the play-off round of next season’s UEFA Conference League, but a place in next season’s Europa League is also a distinct possibility.
Monaco, who currently occupy the fourth-place spot that would provide that, are only six points ahead of Lille, and with some tricky fixtures in which they may drop points still to play for Les Monegasques, fourth place is still somewhat of a possibility for Lille, which is why a win here is important for them.
Both teams actually come into this match with very similar recent form from their last 10 matches, with the hosts having picked up five wins, three draws and losing just twice, while the visitors also have five wins, but have drawn a game less and lost just once more. Both sides also come into the game having lost their previous match, with Montpellier losing 2-1 to Toulouse last Sunday. But prior to that loss to Toulouse, they impressively drew with Champions League-chasing Marseille and also won three games on the bounce against Angers, Ajaccio and Clermont. However, with the exception of Marseille, they face a tougher test than any of those aforementioned sides this weekend when they visit the Stade Pierre-Mauroy, a ground that they have not won at for 12 years.
That abysmal record will give Lille, who actually lost their last game to bottom side Angers, confidence going into this match. Les Dogues have been in what could be described as a stale form for quite a while now, with their only recent wins coming against lowly sides such as Stade Brest, Strasbourg and Toulouse.
Their other recent games have seen them throw away points - for example, conceding two late goals to lose 4-3 against PSG and throwing away a 3-1 lead against Lyon in a match that eventually ended 3-3, while also drawing with both Clermont and Lens. Lille have not been a beacon of resilience and defensive solidity at all in recent weeks, but can get back on track this weekend with a win against a side they have a fine record against.
From the 32 league meetings between these sides, Lille have triumphed on 18 occasions, with Montpellier having only eight wins to their name. As already mentioned, the last time that Montpellier actually beat Lille was six years ago in 2017, with their last win at Lille’s ground stretching back even further, to 2011. While also picking up a 3-1 win in the reverse fixture back in September, it looks very likely that Lille will emerge from this match with the three points. Paulo Fonseca’s side are priced at 1/2 odds to win this match, while Montpellier are priced at 19/4 odds to win.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of our previews, tips and offers for this weekend’s action. Footy Accumulators is the #1 football betting site for the latest on betting in the UK - download the Betting Hub app for more!