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Following on from AS Monaco's surprising draw away to lowly Montpellier on Friday, René Girard's Lille have the opportunity to move into 2nd place should they overcome Reims on Sunday. Les Dogues have surprised many this season with their miserly defense and have stubbornly hung on to the coat-tails of the glamour boys of Paris Saint Germain and Monaco at the top of Ligue 1.

In their most recent Ligue 1 fixture before the Christmas break, Lille collected a deserved point after an 2-2 draw with leaders PSG in the Parc des Princes. The Parisians have been unbeaten at their home ground since November 2012, but it took a scrappy own-goal from Lille defender Marko Basa's  to save the impressive run. Many doubted that Lille have got what it takes to trump PSG and Monaco to this season's title, but the bruising encounter with PSG on the 22nd December was further evidence that Girard's squad have the consistency and temperament to secure the title.

A welcome boost for Lille's title aspirations is the sudden rich vein of form from Ivorian striker Salomon Kalou. He netted an impressive 14 times last season but as Ligue 1 approached the halfway point this season, the 28 year old had scored just 3 times. However,  3 goals and an assist in the last 2 matches will give the striker and his side timely confidence in attack.

Lille are strong favorites to take the 3 points on Sunday. In the corresponding fixture last season, Lille cruised to a 3-0 win. Ominously for Reims, Kalou scored twice. However, Reims claimed a deserved victory over Lille in the 2nd weekend of this season, back in mid August. That was 1 of just 2 defeats for Les Dogues. 

But these sides have matched up fairly well in recent counters. In the last 5 fixtures, Lille have won 1, Reims have won 1 and their have been 3 draws. Lille have the strongest home record in France, winning 8 from 9 home games including their last 6  and conceding just 3 goals in those 9 matches at their Stade Metropole. 

Lille will miss several key players: Ryan Mendes remains sidelined with a heel injury. John Jairo Ruiz also has a hamstring niggle and Franck Beria will be absent until mid-March with a damaged shoulder. Reims will be without Brazilian striker Diego.


Ivory Coast striker Salomon Kalou snapped his eight match scoring drought in style as he struck twice to help Lille to a 2-1 win over Bastia and back into the Ligue 1 title race. The 2012 Champions League winner, who was Lille's top scorer last season with 16 goals, took his tally this season to five with a brace of first-half strikes that ultimately downed the Corsican visitors.

Ludovic Genest gave Bastia a stunning start to the match when he hit the target after only three minutes with a long distance volley that flew past Lille's African champion goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama. However Rene Girard's men refused to buckle and took an important stride towards their 12th win in 18 matches when Kalou scored twice in five minutes.

The first was a dipping shot on 17 minutes from outside the box that left Bastia's keeper Mickael Landreau -- the record-holder for Ligue 1 appearances -- flapping, before he blasted another missile past the former Nantes and PSG custodian moments later. Earlier, Bordeaux continued their rich vein of form with a come-from-behind 2-1 home win over third-from-bottom Valenciennes.

The visitors took the lead ten minutes inside the second half through Mali midfielder Tongo Doumbia, before in-form Brazilan Jussie equalized from the penalty spot three minutes later. The hero for the Girodins was Frenchman Nicolas Maurice-Belay who grabbed the decisive goal with 17 minutes remaining to lift his side into temporary possession of fifth spot.

Later on Sunday, Marseille's caretaker coach Jose Anigo takes his struggling former champions to Lyon for his first domestic match after their 2-1 Champions League home reverse against Borussia Dortmund in midweek. On Saturday, leaders Paris Saint-Germain coasted past Rennes 3-1 and second-placed Monaco kept pace with an equally comfortable 2-0 win at Guingamp.

PSG lead their Cote d'Azur rivals by two points with Lille two further back after 18 matches and just one more fixture before the winter break. PSG host Lille next Sunday at the Parc des Princes while Monaco are at home to Valenciennes two days earlier in the first game of the weekend slate. Fourth-placed Nantes crumbled 2-1 at home to Toulouse on Saturday, Nice kept Sochaux at the bottom with a 1-0 home win and Lorient defeated Ajaccio 2-1 in Corsica.

Finally, Evian and Reims finished 1-1 and Montpellier's first league game under new coach Rolland Courbis finished in a 1-0 home defeat against seventh-placed Saint-Etienne.

Miami is the top destination for some of soccer's biggest stars this summer. Radamel Falcao is the third player to appear at "Magic City" after Cristiando Ronaldo and Kaká were spotted there this summer also. The Colombian striker was present in Game 6 of the NBA Finals and was just steps away from Ray Allen when he took the miraculous shot that tied the game in the final seconds that eventually took the series to Game 7. Falcao was not the only soccer player present at the American Airlines Arena. Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou were also there to watch Lebron James and Co. take on the San Antonio Spurs.