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Lille visits Saint-Etienne with upgraded offense

Lille visits Saint-Etienne with upgraded offense

Defending champion Lille and Saint-Etienne will have new attacking options to play with when they square off in the French league on Saturday.
Saint-Etienne and Lille both have seven points after four rounds, two behind leader Montpellier.
Lille signed midfielder Joe Cole on loan from Liverpool and forward Ireneusz Jelen, who was released by Auxerre, before the transfer window closed last week.
"We are now much better equipped to play in all competitions with the arrivals of Jelen and Cole," Lille coach Rudi Garcia told the club's website.
On the subject of Cole's style of play, Garcia said: "Among the British players, I think he's probably one of the most Latin ones. So he should fit in well with our team."
The former England international brings plenty of European experience to a Lille side eager to do well in the Champions League.
Saint-Etienne also increased its offensive capabilities on the last day of the summer transfer window, signing Lynel Kitambala from Lorient, Romania midfielder Banel Nicolita from Steaua Bucharest and Ivory Coast international Max Gradel from Leeds.
Gradel scored 18 goals in the English Championship last season.
Marseille will be under pressure Saturday when it hosts Rennes. It is still winless in the league and has drawn three of its four games.
"Three points, that's not enough for our ambitions," Marseille coach Didier Deschamps told a press conference. "It's a difficult period. The only way out is to bear it and get through it as quickly as possible."
Marseille has leaked a lot of goals this season and will play without Ghana winger Andre Ayew who picked up a groin injury.
"It's a complicated start to the season, but we will have no room for error Saturday in front of our fans," Marseille forward Andre-Pierre Gignac told the club's website. "We must reassure ourselves, reassure the fans and everybody because there's a bit too much hubbub."
Meanwhile, second-place Lyon visits promoted Dijon on Saturday.
Lyon hopes its investment in youth and smart buys will bear fruits this season.
Last month, Lyon signed fullback Mouhamadou Dabo from Spanish club Sevilla for 1 million euros ($1.4 million), center back Bakary Kone from Guingamp for 2 million euros ($2.8 million) and midfielder Gueida Fofana from Le Havre for 1.8 million euros ($2.5 million).
Fofana captained the France team that won the Under-19 European Championship last year. He also led France to the semifinals of the U20 World Cup this summer.
Lyon can also rely on a new generation of players like Clement Grenier and Alexandre Lacazette, who both developed at the club's football academy.
The seven-time champion is going back to frugal ways after lavishly spending in the past years to acquire such players as Lisandro Lopez, Yoann Gourcuff, Michel Bastos and Aly Cissokho.
Lyon cut its payroll this summer by selling Bosnia playmaker Miralem Pjanic to Serie A club Roma for 11 million euros ($15.5 million) and France international Jeremy Toulalan to Spanish side Malaga for 10 million euros ($14 million).
"August has been a successful month with regard to the goals that we've set," Lyon coach Remi Garde told a press conference. "We've won our Champions League playoff tie and I think a total of eight points in August is a decent result."
Lyon will be without Argentine striker Lopez, who sprained his ankle and will be sidelined for about four weeks.
Big-spending Paris Saint-Germain hosts Brest on Sunday.
PSG has already spent more than 85 million euros ($119 million) this summer after recently signing Uruguay captain Diego Lugano from Turkish club Fenerbahce.
Lugano scored in Uruguay's 3-2 win over Ukraine in Kharkov last week.
After a sluggish start, PSG has won its last two league games to be level on seven points with Lille and five other clubs.
Argentina playmaker Javier Pastore justified his price tag of 42 million euros ($59 million) by making two assists in PSG's 3-1 win over Toulouse in the previous round.
"We know Javier's skills," PSG coach Antoine Kombouare said. "He's someone who's able to organize the team's offense and above all to deliver the final ball."
"He's getting more and more fit. Time is on our side but we must keep on working."
PSG forward Guillaume Hoarau will be out for two months after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder on Monday.
Also on Saturday, it's: Ajaccio vs. Valenciennes, Bordeaux vs. Evian, Caen vs. Toulouse, and Sochaux vs. Lorient.
On Sunday, Montpellier hosts Nice and Auxerre visits Nancy.


Updated : 2021-02-28 02:58 GMT+08:00