FRANCE: Ligue 1
Time: 4:00 PM
Venue: Stade Municipal Saint-Symphorien (Metz)
Metz, entering their third successive Ligue 1 (L1) season (a feat not achieved since 2007/08), are firmly on their way to becoming an established L1 side. Ending 2020/21 in tenth place was their best top-flight finish since also finishing tenth in 1998/99, albeit they did flirt with the top six until a disappointing run of one victory from their final 11 games (D3, L7).
Home form will have to drastically improve this season, as Metz picked up only 42.55% of their points during the 2020/21 campaign when hosting, severely hindering their ability to progress up the table. Furthermore, there were some signs of character issues, highlighted by the fact that they managed to rescue only one solitary home point from 21 when losing at HT.
Defending champions Lille secured their fourth L1 title in 2020/21, a decade on from their last, but know they’ll have a target on their back this season. However just three losses last term while conceding only 23 goals (both league lows) indicates that they’ll be tough to overcome, even with a new manager, Jocelyn Gourvennec, at the helm. Additionally, their recent Trophée des Champions victory over PSG might give them a crucial psychological edge in the title race!
‘Les Dogues’ have got off to a winning start on matchday one in five of the last ten seasons (D3, L2), and they were the league’s best travellers during the last campaign (W14, D4, L1). Therefore expect no fear from them in this encounter, particularly given their record of seven wins from their last nine L1 trips to Metz (D1, L1).
Players to watch: Metz attacking midfielder Farid Boulaya scored 50% of his goals last season after the 89th minute, while being the team’s top assist maker with eight. Lille veteran forward, Burak Yılmaz, scored 50% of his league goals last season in the 15 minutes either side of HT.
- Metz’s form in last 5 matches: WWWLD.
- Lille’s form in last 5 matches: WLLDL.
PREDICTION: Away and Over 1.5