Lille eying to dethrone PSG from the French league dorminance

Spread the love

The French top flight is supposed to be one of the most predictable leagues in Europe – but Lille have well and truly ripped up the script this season.
Christophe Galtier has led his side to the top of Ligue 1 and they are one point ahead of current champions Paris Saint-Germain, who have won seven of the last eight titles. 

Only an incredible Monaco side briefly disrupted their dominance by winning the 2016-2017 season. But that team was broken up and the star man, Kylian Mbappe, bought by PSG for £166million. 
Lille have shocked French football to top Ligue 1 with three games of the season remaining
Since then, there has been no ‘race’ to speak of with the Parisians able to stroll to towards their last three titles. 
In 2017-2018, they finished the season 13 points clear at the top. The following campaign the gap was 16 points and last year it was 12 – though it would likely have increased had the season been completed.

That is why it has been so refreshing for many supporters to witness the thrilling battle between the underdogs, a star-studded PSG team, Monaco and Lyon.
Both Lille and PSG also have a similar run-ins with three games of the season remaining. Lille’s hardest fixture comes tonight away at Lens, who are fifth and battling for a Europa League place. 

The other two fixtures are against Saint-Etienne and Angers with both teams having little to play for. Angers are also without a win seven league games.
PSG face Rennes, Reims and Brest in the final three matches. Like Lens, Rennes are playing for a Europa League spot while Reims are mid-table and Brest are six points clear of the relegation zone.  

Monaco and Lyon have an outside chance of winning the title but would need Lille to lose two of their final three fixtures. Monaco are five points behind and have Rennes, Lens and Reims to play in their remaining games. Lyon are six points behind and face Lorient, Nimes and Nice.
Paris Saint-Germain have won seven of the last eight titles but could be set to lose their crown 
May 7 – Lens (A) 
May 16 – Saint-Etienne (H)
May 9 – Rennes (A)
May 16 – Reims (H)
May 23 – Brest (A) 
May 16 – Rennes (H)
May 23 – Lens (A)
May 8 – Lorient (H)
May 23 – Nice (H) 
Should Lille be crowned champions it would be their first Ligue 1 title in 10 years – and they’ll have done it without breaking the bank. 

Jonathan David became the club’s record signing when the Canadian forward joined from Gent for a £24m fee last summer. In comparison, Neymar cost PSG a world record £198m in 2017. 
The transfer fees paid for Neymar and Mbappe are higher than the cost of Lille’s entire squad. 
David has been a key player for with 11 goals and the 21-year-old is a reported target for Manchester United and Arsenal.

He is two goals behind top scorer Burak Yilmaz, who has netted 13 times. Yilmaz has been one of the standout players in the French league this season.
He spent most of his career in Turkey, winning two Super Lig titles with Galatasary and the Turkish Cup and Super Cup with Besiktas and Trabzonspor. 
The striker has done the rounds of Turkey’s top flight clubs with other spells at Fenerbache, Manisaspor and Eskisehirspor after starting his career with Antalyaspor. He also spent a season in China with Beijing Guoan. 

But last summer the 35-year-old finally got his chance in one of Europe’s top leagues and he could mark his debut campaign with a title. 
If Yilmaz is more unfamiliar to fans in England, two players in Lille’s ranks are well known to Southampton and Swansea supporters. 
Jonathan David became Lille’s record signing in the summer after being linked with Arsenal and Manchester United, and the Canadian forward has been a key figure up front
Burak Yilmaz (left) also arrived in the summer and is the club’s top scorer with 13 goals
Former Saints defender Jose Fonte is still going strong at the age of 37 and is captain of the club. 
Lille have kept 19 clean sheets in 35 games this season, with Fonte playing in 18 of those matches. 
It’s Lille’s strength at the back that has kept them at the top of the table this season.

They’ve scored 20 fewer goals than PSG but have only conceded 22 times – which is matched only by Atletico Madrid in the top leagues across Europe.
That is despite losing Gabriel to Arsenal in the summer transfer window. The club received £27m for the centre back, who has had an injury-hit campaign at the Emirates.

Lille brought in Dutch youth international Sven Botman from Ajax for £7.8m and the 21-year-old has been impressive alongside Fonte. His performances have caught the interest of Liverpool, Tottenham and Inter Milan.
Former Swans man Renato Sanches is also one of the key players for Les Dogues. Sanches failed to impress during his brief loan spell at the Liberty Stadium but Lille saw enough to sign him from Bayern Munich for £21m in 2019 – which was a record fee before David’s arrival.
Sanches was crowned European Golden Boy at the age of 19 in 2016, after joining Bayern from Benfica. He struggled to make the grade in the Bundesliga but has been able to rebuild his career in France.

Lille’s business in the transfer market has been one of their greatest strengths and the man behind it all has a well-known history of unearthing talent. 
Former sporting director Luis Campos, who recently left the club, helped build the Monaco team who beat PSG to the title in 2017 and he could have played a part in the Parisians losing their grip on the trophy once again. 
The Monaco squad that Campos was responsible for assembling included the likes of Bernardo Silva, Fabinho, Thomas Lemar, Benjamin Mendy and Tiemoue Bakayoko. 

Before that, he had brought Anthony Martial to the club, with the forward going on to sign for Manchester United in a £36m deal in 2015. 
Mbappe was already at Monaco when Campos arrived but he convinced the striker to stay and had him promoted to the first team before his big-money move to PSG.

The players Campos brought into Monaco helped them win their first title in 17 years and saw them receive huge transfer fees when the players were eventually sold on. 
Campos has since been working his magic at Lille. The chief was the responsible for the signings of Nicolas Pepe and Victor Osimhen, who both left in big transfer deals. 

Pepe joined Arsenal in 2019 for a club record fee of £72m. Osimhen left for Napoli last summer for another record fee of £74m.
There will no doubt be several clubs queuing up to try and recruit Campos as their sporting director given his history in the game. He also worked with Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid.

Former sporting director Luis Campos has been responsible for a number of important signings and was the man behind the incredible Monaco team that won the title in 2017
Sven Botman has impressed in defence with a number of clubs said to be interested in him
While Campos has been one of the key men behind the scenes, manager Galtier has also earned plenty of plaudits for the job he has done in northern France. 
Galtier joined Lille in 2017 after eight years with Saint-Etienne, who he guided to the French League Cup in 2013.

Lille were in crisis when Galtier joined. Marcelo Bielsa had just left after a power struggle with Campos over signings and Galtier arrived in December, with Lille in the thick of a relegation battle and banned from signing players in January.
They looked to be heading for the drop before three successive victories against Metz, Toulouse, and Dijon saw them cling on to their top-flight status on the final weekend of the season. 

Galtier was then forced to sell a number of key players, including Brighton’s Yves Bissouma, due to financial fair play rules. Despite that, he guided them to second with the club qualifying for the Champions League.  
Christophe Galtier has done a fantastic job at Lille since taking over as manager in 2017
The coach did a backwards roll when his team scored a last-minute winner against Lyon
They finished fourth in 2019-2020 but were only one point off third place Rennes before the season was curtailed.

Winning the Ligue 1 title would be Galtier’s biggest achievement. With three games to go, there is every chance his team can pull off what would be one of the biggest shocks in domestic football this season. 
When Lille scored a last-minute winner against Lyon at the end of April, Galtier did a backwards roll on the touchline. Expect cartwheels if his side become champions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: