Mastiffs struggle to find their bite

Despite a first victory before the truce, the Lille champion appears unrecognizable at the start of the season. This Friday, the northern club moves to Lorient to try to restart the machine.

How far are the days when José Fonte, as a victorious captain, proudly waved the Hexagoal in front of his astonished supporters. A time when LOSC concluded its incredible season in the best possible way. This time of joy, popular fervor and celebration now seems over for the northern club. Unexpected champions, Lille had thwarted all forecasts by stealing their prestigious crown from Paris Saint-Germain. The Mastiffs then lived a real daydream, but dreams, alas, only last a while and the awakening can sometimes be brutal.

If in the North Indian summer was still continued with another title in the bag (the Champions Trophy, obtained once again at the expense of PSG with a 1-0 victory), the enchanted parenthesis is now over . Coming down from their cloud, Lille find that the return to normal and reality of the championship is proving to be very complicated. The Mastiffs seem a long way from their level almost two months ago and have started the new season with a severe hangover. Only one victory in four games, the record is not very bright for the outgoing champion who is currently in a very sad tenth place.

Only one being you miss

Last season, Lille drew its strength from its collective and not from simple individuals. The guarantor of this strong collective and this conquering state of mind was named Christophe Galtier. Since its departure for the Côte d’Azur, the LOSC is no longer the same, orphan of the man with whom everything seemed possible. The native of Marseille has always been a real leader and his absence is now greatly felt. Especially since his successor, Jocelyn Gourvennec, is far, very far, from being unanimous among the supporters. Indeed, the Breton technician remains on two resounding failures in Bordeaux and Guingamp. His legitimacy to coach a club the size of LOSC raises questions.

Christophe Galtier’s legacy is heavy to bear for Jocelyn Gourvennec PASCAL ROSSIGNOL / REUTERS

In the grip of great financial difficulties, one should not expect a flashy transfer window. This is valid for the coach therefore, but also the players. If the big bloodletting announced did not finally take place, there were all the same important departures (Mike Maignan, Boubakary Soumaré and Luiz Araújo), and far too few arrivals (Ivo Grbić, Amadou Onana and Gabriel Gudmundsson ). While its majority competitors have strengthened, the ambitions of the Northerners have clearly been revised downwards. And then how not to underestimate the essential place of the luck factor, or the success specific to the champion, in the Lille coronation. Last season, Burak Yılmaz’s teammates won a lot of games on the smallest of margins. Victories snatched in the very last moments, involved, decisive substitutes … In short, a real united and efficient team.

« LOSC should have finished fourth« 

An observation that seems to share the President of Lille, Olivier Létang, who spoke in The voice of sports : “Last year, LOSC won twelve games by one goal difference. Twelve matches! There is nothing between winning by a goal and losing by a goal. In the data we have, because we follow everything, the LOSC should have finished fourth. We are very lucid: if we lose this collective strength, if we lose this state of mind, and much rather than winning by a goal of a gap, we will lose by a goal of a gap.  » If the current situation of the club is indeed not at its best, everything is not to be thrown away either.

LOSC will play in the Champions League again this season. And while we predicted hell for Lille in the draw, we can say that they were rather varnished, much more than PSG in any case, avoiding the main scarecrows of the competition. Jocelyn Gourvennec’s men will face Sevilla FC, RB Salzburg, and VFL Wolfsburg. A very open group, therefore, but be careful all the same since the last campaign of LOSC in the most prestigious of European competitions (2019-2020) had turned into a fiasco. The Mastiffs had left the competition from the group stages, collecting in the process only one small point. With the desire to let the past die, they will receive the Germans from Wolfsburg at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium on Tuesday.

But before the long-awaited launch of the European games, before dreaming with their heads towards the stars, Lille will have to concentrate on things much more down to earth, namely our good old championship. A Ligue 1 in which the LOSC is for the moment very badly embarked. And yes, the status of champion is heavier to bear than it seems. From now on, Lille players are expected, which is not always easy to manage, especially for the young people who mainly make up this group. However, the clouds seem to be gradually dissipating. After three games without victories, LOSC finally obtained its first victory against Montpellier on August 29. The Mastiffs will have to confirm this clearing at Moustoir de Lorient this Friday. This will undoubtedly not be easy against the Merlus, current seventh in Ligue 1. A match that will have a special flavor for Jocelyn Gourvennec who will return to the city of his childhood.

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