Barely in the league, with only one victory, the Lille receive, Tuesday, Wolfsburg, leader of the Bundesliga, in the Champions League.
Where did the conqueror, seductive and sure of his strengths go from last season? The reigning French champions have only been a shadow of themselves since the start of the Ligue 1 version 2021-2022, when they face the leader of the Bundesliga, Wolfsburg, on the occasion of the 1st day of the Champions League, Tuesday, September 14.
The season had started well, with the Trophée des Champions clinched against Paris Saint-Germain, but in the league, the Mastiffs have only one victory in five games.
In contrast, fourth in the Bundesliga last season, the Germans won their first four league games this season. A flawless performance against Vfl Bochum, Hertha Berlin, Greuther Furth but especially against RB Leipzig, the defending vice-champion. “It’s a team that looks like us, said captain Benjamin André at a press conference before the match against Wolfsburg. They are very strong collectively, they do a lot of races and everyone defends. They arrive with full confidence.”
Since the start of the season, the Wolves have only conceded one goal. To preserve this defensive solidity, they can in particular count on the Frenchman Maxence Lacroix, particularly formidable in the duels and precise in the recovery. In front, Wout Weghorst is the most decisive element in the system put in place by Mark van Bommel, with a lot of presence in the opponents’ area. The forward has scored two goals and provided an assist since the start of the season.
The trainer Jocelyn Gourvennec knows the danger that the Germans represent: “They are very well organized, they are making a very big start to the season. They have not changed much compared to last year. They are in the continuity. It’s up to us to offer them a coherent opposition. The Champions League is two, three levels above the championship. We want to be present for the first match at home, to be up to the event. “
For Lille, the start of the season is much less successful. With the departure of Christophe Galtier, they not only lost a coach, but also their winning spirit and character. Jocelyn Gourvennec, who replaces him on the bench, has apparently not yet succeeded in injecting new momentum and finding the right formula. The Lille coach wants to follow on from his predecessor by offering a 4-4-2, without success for the moment. “The problem does not come from the organization [the 4-4-2] but comes from the animation of the organization explained the Lille coach. We need to find a better balance. do things a lot more together and over time “
The Mastiffs have won just one of their five Ligue 1 games and suffered two losses including a slap at home by OGC Nice de Galtier (0-4).
“Obviously we are not happy with our start to the season,” captain Benjamin André said at a press conference ahead of the match against Wolfsburg. “We do not see a conquering Losc, this cohesion which has made our strength and which is our strength. We simply have to go back to certain bases. We have no Messi, no Neymar, our strength is collective, we must ‘press that. “
“The pressure is the one that we impose on ourselves. We have an obligation of results when we are a club like Lille”
Beyond these insufficient results for a reigning French champion, Lille are worried about their lack of envy on the pitch and the loss of their defensive strength, which made them successful last season. “Everyone must raise their physical and mental level and I speak for everyone. Stop doing a little less, but a little more. It is up to us and us alone to change and raise our level,” says the captain. Lille.
Mike Maignan gone, Jose Fonte and Sven Botman are no longer so imperial, the defense more crumbly. Losc have already conceded 11 goals in five matches, compared to just 27 last season. “There are players who need to be reassured, others to be stung. We must find a tenfold requirement, we will need that tomorrow [against Wolfsburg]”, announces the Lille coach.
In front, Lille sometimes seem to rely too much on the personal exploits of Burak Yilmaz, already author of 3 goals. But the 36-year-old Turk will not be able to keep up if LOSC plays several times a week and no recruitment has been made to his position to replace him. The lack of physical freshness could quickly pose a problem for Mastiffs. Jocelyn Gourvennec surprisingly made only three changes against Lorient this weekend, as his side will have a busy week that ends with a derby against Lens on Saturday 18th September.
Can going through the most prestigious of European competitions change the team? “Playing a Champions League game at home is an opportunity to turn things around,” said Benjamin André. For his trainer, he must “take the opportunity and play it at 300%”. “To be up to the task, you have to mobilize, raise your standards. And if we do, we are able to do great things.”
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