Lille keep title aspirations in check

Arch-rivals at opposite ends of the table, league leaders Lille and relegation-threatened Lens square off in Ligue 1 on Saturday.

Lille are unbeaten in eight games and looking for their fifth consecutive victory when they take to the field at the Stadium Lille Metropole.


Their run has taken them four points clear of the chasing pack, but Paris Saint-Germain, Rennes and Lyon are all poised to pounce on a slip from the leaders.


Centre-back Adil Rami, capped six times for France, insists the squad are reluctant to consider mounting a sustained challenge for the championship.


“It’s not like us to say that we’re fighting for the title,” Rami said.


“There are more traditionally successful teams than ours. So we remain humble, it’s a victory for us to be here among many others and now we have to carry on working and going forward.”


Forwards Moussa Sow and Gervais Gervinho have been influential this season, scoring 15 and 10 goals respectively.


But they have been ably assisted by Belgian Eden Hazard, who was singled out for special praise by coach Rudi Garcia.


“We expect a lot from these talented players, on their capacities to be decisive,” Garcia said.


“He’s been decisive these last two games and that’s great, for sure.”


Struggling at the other end of the table this season, Lens have won two games in a row to move clear of the relegation zone, including a come-from-behind 2-1 win over St Etienne.


They also beat Caen 2-0, but are still only one point clear of the bottom three.


“What we did is super important,” defender Franck Queudrue said.


“Already to have come from behind against St Etienne and (winning) against Caen, grabbing six points and exiting the relegation zone.”


Lens’ mini-revival has been prompted by the arrival of new coach Laszlo Boloni, who will have his work cut out for him as he attempts to make it three wins from three up against the in-form table toppers.