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Trophée des Champions: Lille vs PSG Preview

PSG's Neymar and Marquinhos

Champions of France travel to Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv, Israel to settle the best of the best in France with Ligue 1 defending champions, Lille, taking on the Coupe de France victors Paris Saint-Germain. The last hoorah of the 2020/21 season sees the cream of the crop take it to the field in their first competitive fixture of the new season. How have these two French giants spent their off season and what can we expect?

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Trophée des Champions Final
Sunday 1 August 
Bloomfield Stadium
20:00

To Win (90 min)
Lille 31/10
Draw 22/10
Paris Saint-Germain 8/10

Lille

After a well-deserved break from their Ligue 1 title winning campaign, Lille are back! However, I cannot say Les Douges are back with a bang, with preseason not going according to plan in terms of results. Just one win and three goals in their four scheduled fixtures is not promising heading into the season, but then again, preseason is always speculative as to what performances we will see when clubs get down to business.

Lille start the new season without the man who led them to silverware last season, Christophe Galtier, and Jocelyn Gourvennec takes over the job of defending their title winning campaign. Gourvennec faces his first big challenge after managing Bordeaux from 2016-2018 and the rocky start will not inspire confidence.

Key players were rested from fixtures throughout preseason as six of their main starting XI took part in the European Championship tournament, as well as the departure of two high profile players, Boubakary Soumare to Leicester City and shot stopper Mike Maignan to AC Milan. A new dynamic will have to be fashioned by the gaffer with no new incoming players to date except the return of promising attacking midfielder Angel Gomes from a loan spell in Portugal.

With not much time to instil a playing style and philosophy within the club, Gourvennec will have to rely on individual brilliance shining against their opposition. Lille are not short of talent and experience with Renato Sanches on the teamsheet as well as veteran Jose Fonte, coupled with a Turkish trio of Zeki Celik, Yusuf Yazici and Burak Yilmaz.

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Paris Saint-Germain

Mauricio Pochettino has not been an outright success in terms of trophies for PSG but has been handed a new contract and will be backed going forward by the club. Results from preseason without the likes of Mbappe and Neymar to name a few are not much to go on, but we can expect a plan to start of their first competitive game with a win.

Paris Saint-Germain have been doing excellent business over the off season. Aside from promoting a host of youth academy players, business has been booming in Paris. A household name like Sergio Ramos has made his way to the club, arguably the future of goalkeeping Gianluigi Donnarumma, and ex Liverpool starter Georginio Wijnaldum all on free transfers.

In addition, they have spent big money on the Moroccan Achraf Hakimi, and made an upgrade in defensive midfield with Portugal’s Danilo Pereira. They have not hidden from the fact that their defence was in need of an overhaul. Of the quality brought in, only the right back Hakimi has started an scored his first goal in a friendly fixture.

However, all PSG’s players are back in full training and the only doubt will be ex-Real Madrid captain Ramos still nursing a calf injury.

The Parisians have one of the fiercest attacks in world football, and now they have added to their midfield and defence in a way that every fan would dream of happening at the club they support. The faces from last year are all present and Pochettino has just beefed up his squad, so there is no doubt the cohesion will be present for their opening fixture.

Prediction: Paris Saint-Germain Win (7/20)
Last season Christopher Galtier was able to get the better of PSG in the league, but Pochettino got one back when they faced in the Coupe de France to take the title.

With so many changes and restructuring in the Lille camp this opening Trophee des Champions fixture will be a real test for Lille. PSG on the other hand still have all their key players on hand and have just added exceptional quality to their squad making them the scariest team to face in my opinion.

PSG should take this game comfortably with the start of the season more often than not teams still making adjustments and individual quality carrying the squad.

Written by Joshua Gaillard