FRENCH LIGUE 1

Grand Stade Lille Metropole

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Lille v Lyon: Preview

PA Sport

Lyon coach Remi Garde has conceded he will have to be on his game tactically against Lille if he is to conjure up a win to keep his side in the hunt for a place in next season's Champions League.

Currently in sixth place in Ligue 1, Lyon head to third-placed Lille on the back of a run which has seen them lose just one of their last 10 top-flight matches going back to the start of December.

Another victory could see Garde's side close to within two points of Lille in the race to regain their place at Europe's top table after falling at the qualifying hurdle early in the season.

``This is an important game in the race to catch up with the leaders,'' Garde said.

``At one stage this season we were 15 points adrift, and who thought we would come back? But nothing is certain in football.

``But we're currently on a good run, one that motivates players, with the idea simply to try and get the best possible result.

``Now we face a strong team who have enjoyed a very good first half of the season and who have a proven coach.

``It means tactical thinking will be very important because if we win this we are two points behind Lille.''

Garde goes into the game, though, still without one of his most influential players in midfielder Yoann Gourcuff, who remains sidelined with a groin injury.

Five others are also out in defenders Miguel Lopes and Mamade Dabo, midfielders Gueida Fofana and Clement Grenier, along with striker Alex Lacazette.

As for Lille, coach Rene Girard has doubts over defender Marko Basa, Djibril Sidibe and Papa N'Diaye Souare, whilst midfielder Marvin Martin (knee) and defender Franck Beria (shoulder) are definitely out.

With just one win in their last seven league games, Lille have fallen some way adrift of leaders Paris St Germain and Monaco.

Girard is hoping a last-minute equaliser in last weekend's 2-2 draw at Evian will have fired up his players.

``It's not just during games where I see players find the spirit that animated them during the first half of the season, but also during training. They produce serious work,'' said Girard.

``Everyone pitches in, investing heavily to turn things in the right direction.

``We have certainly not had much success at the start of this year, but I think the goal in the last minute against Evian shows momentum has now switched to the right side.''

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