Lille OSC v Paris Saint-Germain: 6 Things We Learned

Andrew Gibney@@gibney_aFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2014

Lille OSC v Paris Saint-Germain: 6 Things We Learned

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    STADE PIERRE MAUROY, LILLE—Although they were crowned Ligue 1 champions on Wednesday night, Paris Saint-Germain were not in the mood to gift Lille a place in the Champions League qualifiers. Laurent Blanc’s side bounced back from defeat against Rennes to beat Lille 3-1 on Saturday night.

    The victory takes PSG to a record-breaking 86 points this season. The record had been set at 84 points by Olympique Lyonnais eight years ago, and it was the last goal that the Parisians had yet to achieve.

    Lille had enjoyed the majority of possession in the early running and were outplaying PSG in the important midfield areas. They had started well and were taking the game to the visitors, but it all changed in the 37th minute.

    Lille midfielder Marvin Martin made a reckless challenge on Yohan Cabaye, and the former Newcastle United player went down in screams of agony. At first it seemed like referee Ruddy Buquet had shown Martin a yellow card, but after having a few minutes to reflect, he brandished the midfielder a straight red.

    Down to 10 men, Lille were instantly punished as Brazilian defender Marquinhos headed past Vincent Enyeama after the Nigerian ‘keeper had saved a shot from Lucas Moura.

    Fired up after the half-time interval Lille tried to hit back, but they were stung on the break, this time Moura’s shot did beat Enyeama, finding the bottom corner. Late on substitute, Blaise Matuidi sealed the win with a third goal for the away side.

    Lille got a consolation goal through Jonathan Delaplace, and it was the least that they deserved. However, coach Rene Girard will wonder what if after his side showed great heart against the champions for most of Saturday’s match.

    Read on for a few more things we learned from Saturday night’s match.

Marvin Martin May Cost Lille Third Place

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    Lille now go into the last game of the season knowing that they will likely have to win at Lorient if they are to secure a third-place finish this season. The red card to Martin drastically reduced their chances of picking up a vital point against Paris Saint-Germain, and the reckless challenge from Martin could have bigger consequences.

    Only last weekend the midfielder had a great chance to put Lille 2-0 up against Bastia, but the 26-year-old couldn’t net his first goal for the club, and in the end, the home side would find a late equaliser. Three points in Corsica would have secured a place in the Champions League qualifiers, and it will now go down to the wire.

    Going down to 10 men after 37 minutes changed the whole complexion of the game. Lille were in control of the midfield, and PSG had yet to test Enyeama in the Lille net. It’s not to say the point was guaranteed, but Girard would have fancied his sides’ chances of frustrating and limiting the champions with a full complement on the pitch.

    Saint-Etienne’s 3-1 victory over Nantes means that they are only two points shy of Lille with one game left. Lille travel to Lorient, and les Verts have bottom-placed Ajaccio at home.

    Martin has mostly disappointed since his €9 million move to Lille two years ago, if les Dogues now fail to finish third, he will have cost the club much more than his high transfer fee and wages.

Cabaye Ankle Injury Could Be Huge Blow for France

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    It was supposed to be a celebrated return to Lille for Cabaye, but the French international left the stadium on crutches after Martin’s 37th-minute tackle.

    It was obvious from the impact that Martin had done some damage to Cabaye, with his team-mates instantly signalling to the bench that something was wrong.

    Initial thoughts were that there was a possible break, but those fears were allayed after the match. Cabaye’s ankle is only thought to be badly swollen, and most importantly, he hasn’t suffered any sort of fracture. PSG Coach Blanc told (in French) that he does not believe that the player will miss this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.

    "Cabaye's injury is not a fracture, nor is it anything too serious. We need to see how it recovers in the next few days, but the medical staff are optimistic and he should be fit again soon," he said. "At the moment, I do not think that he is uncertain for the World Cup."

    The full extent of the injury won’t be known until more tests are done in the next few days, but regardless, is it not the best news for national team coach Didier Deschamps as he names his 30-men preliminary squad this week.

    Cabaye is an important part of France’s starting XI, and there is no obvious replacement who could come in and help France maintain the same shape. Cabaye hasn’t played as much first-team football as Deschamps would have hoped, so anything that would keep him out for a few weeks is bad news for Les Bleus.

Promising Signs for the Side That Rene Girard Has Built

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    Down to 10 men, Girard made a tactical change at half-time, and it nearly paid off. He removed Nolan Roux from the attack and brought on midfielder Delaplace to play wing-back as he moved to a back three.

    This helped Lille contain the PSG front line, while left-back Pape Souare was allowed to attack with his usual gusto. The midfield trio of Florent Balmont, Rio Mavuba and Idrissa Gueye continued to contain the visitors, pushing them into the back foot.

    For 20 minutes of the second half, Lille were much the better team, and it was difficult to pick out which team was a player light. The home side had two excellent chances through the head of Marko Basa, but the Montenegrin defender couldn’t find the target.

    Lille were pushing forward in numbers, and eventually PSG caught them on the break as Lucas made it 2-0. However, until the second goal, Lille showed a great amount of heart, team-work and ability. This is the work of Girard and the fantastic job he has done this season.

    Even though they went 3-0 down, Lille and their fans never gave up, Delaplace scoring a late consolation goal gave the crowd something to cheer in what was their final home game this season.

    If Lille clinch a place in the Champions League qualifier, you can see that Girard will make them very hard to beat no matter the level of opposition put in front of them.

    The path to the group stage will not be easy, but if Lille can show the desire they showed on Saturday night, no team in Europe will be keen to visit the Stade Pierre Mauroy next season.

Brazilian Makes Statement After Missing out on World Cup Place

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    Brazilians Moura and Marquinhos were notable absentees from the 23-man squad that Felipe Luiz Scolari named this week, and both players were quick to show the national team coach what he would miss this summer.

    Lucas was in inspired form on, having a hand in all three of PSG’s goals in the 3-1 win over Lille. It was his shot that was saved by Enyeama before Marquinhos was able to head home. The former Sao Paulo winger then made it 2-0 in the second half when he added the finish to a clinical PSG counter-attack, firing the ball into the far corner.

    Then after a lovely step-over on the edge of the box, it was Lucas who slipped in Blaise Matuidi, and the substitute only had to add the side-foot finish. According to that is the 11th assist in Ligue 1 for Lucas this season.

    The Brazilian has only started 17 times this campaign, but his record of four goals and 11 assists shows that he has actually had a very productive season. He is still only 21 years old and will have the chance to play in future World Cups, but perhaps Scolari might regret not including him this summer.

Cavani Absence Evident in PSG Performance

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    After confirming the title on Wednesday night, Blanc took the chance to rest both Edinson Cavani and Thiago Silva for Saturday night’s game in Lille, and there were clear signs that Paris Saint-Germain missed their €64 million striker for large parts of the match.

    Without Cavani there were times when PSG really lacked a presence high up the pitch. All too often Zlatan Ibrahimovic dropped very deep to receive the ball, even dropping behind the central midfielders. This left Javier Pastore and Moura to lead the line

    Unfortunately, this played into the hands of the Lille defence, and Basa and Simon Kjaer had no problem stopping any of the PSG attackers from penetrating beyond their defensive line.

    PSG missed the movement and danger that Cavani provides. His runs from outside to in are very hard to track for a whole match, and the forward always makes the defence work for the full 90 minutes.

    Relying on the movement of Pastore and Lucas limited PSG’s creativity, and Lille were very comfortable while they had 11 men on the pitch.

    If Cavani was to leave Paris this summer, Blanc would have to make it a priority to sign another centre-forward.

    Ibrahimovic may start as the central striker, but he is not interested in running the line like a typical centre-forward. This is what Cavani adds to the Parisian side, and Blanc should do everything he can to keep “El Matador” in Paris.

End of an Era at LOSC This Summer

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    Saturday night’s match against Paris Saint-Germain was Lille’s last home game of the season. Once the final whistle had blown, the players made sure to thank the crowd by performing the now customary lap of honour.

    The lights at the Stade Pierre Mauroy were dimmed as the players made their way around the pitch, for a few members of the squad, it was clear to see that it would most likely be the last time they graced the field as a LOSC player.

    Captain Rio Mavuba has been linked with a move away this summer, per Le10sport (in French). It was telling that as the fans left the stadium, the 30-year-old was one of the last to leave the pitch, spending his last moments on the field with his children.

    Another member of the title-winning squad from 2011 who could be on the move is right-back Franck Beria, per Le10sport. Beria looked emotional as he waved toward the fans in the vocal Tribune Nord. The Frenchman has been at Lille since 2007 and is one of only a handful of players—alongside Mavuba—who remain from the fantastic double-winning side.

    To lose both Beria and Mavuba in the same summer would be a huge blow to Girard and would give him two huge holes to fill this summer.