Midfielder Yohan Cabaye believes LOSC Lille Métropole's hard-fought 1-1 draw at UEFA Champions League rivals RSC Anderlecht will serve them in excellent stead as their hectic schedule continues this weekend.
The French side had Nicolas Fauvergue's 80th-minute strike to thank for a share of the spoils in Brussels on Wednesday and now turn their attentions to Saturday's visit of Toulouse FC, the third of seven matches in a 21-day period. "This was an important game and it shows we can keep fighting to the end," said the 20-year-old, a surprise starter in place of Stéphane Dumont. "It took courage and luckily we equalised, but now we have to recover and prepare for our match on Saturday."
As busy as their calendar looks, the northerners teemed with energy as they produced a late rally at the Constant Vanden Stock stadium and there is no reason to think they will drop their guard as they attempt to consolidate third place in Ligue 1. As Cabaye explained: "We always believe we can get a result because of the character of the players at this club. That's our mentality and we'll bring that focus to all our league games between now and the AC Milan tie [on Matchday 2]."
Indeed, rather than bemoan the cluttered fixture list, Claude Puel's outfit revel in their European outings. Enjoying a second straight season at this level, Lille hope to emulate five-in-a-row champions Olympique Lyonnais, who after eight successive campaigns among the continental élite have taken a stranglehold on domestic proceedings. "Games like Wednesday's are great for morale," added Cabaye's midfield partner Jean Makoun. "Don't forget, we were up against a good side who played well with the crowd right behind them. This gives us hope on all fronts, starting with Toulouse."
Should he choose to, Puel can rotate his starting lineup with confidence, having seen the problems caused by Fauvergue and fellow substitute Souleymane Youla in midweek. No away team has managed to take points off Lille this term and tenth-placed Toulouse will have to be in top form to match or improve on the stalemate they earned at the Stade Villeneuve-d'Ascq last time out. After all, Les Dogues intend to let no one come between them and another finish in the coveted UEFA Champions League places.
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