Salzburg opponent Lille has lost its magic

Sport

Master coach, sports director and some stars have jumped off. You're currently lagging behind in the league.

Salzburg opponent Lille has lost its magic

When Lille knocked Paris Saint-Germain off the throne last May, despite its seemingly endless resources, football France was deeply impressed. Coach Christophe Galtier had done his job after three years, with a conspiratorial collective without big stars, achieved the almost unbelievable. But the fairy tale against Salzburg's Wednesday opponent in the Champions League (9 p.m. / live Sky) seems to be over.

With a top defense (the fewest goals conceded), strong pressing, including a brilliant storm oldie Burak Yilmaz and a manageable squad (only 21 kickers were used), Lille left PSG's star ensemble behind – also because it was weak. Ironically, some former PSG youngsters were involved: Mike Maignan, Boubakary Soumare, Timothy Weah and Jonathan Ikone – the latter kicked six times in the Youth League in 2016 for PSG alongside today's Salzburg player Antoine Bernede. Goalie Maignan (AC Milan) and midfielder Soumare (Leicester) have been history in Lille since the summer, as has Galtier from the south of France, who is now coaching OGC Nice. And the relatively inconspicuous but excellent sports director Luis Campos is no longer on board.

For years, hardly any other club knew how to use the unleashed transfer market as much as the northern French thanks to the Portuguese Campos. The striker Victor Osimhen, who had failed in Wolfsburg, was brought from Charleroi in 2019 for a good 20 million euros and only one year later he was sold to SSC Napoli for 70 million. Similarly, right winger Nicolas Pepe, who moved to Arsenal in 2019 for around 80 million.

Since summer 2018, Lille has always left the transfer carousel with a plus and a total of around 210 million euros richer. Remarkable: It is a dimension in which Salzburg also moved during the same period.

And even if the in-house academy does not produce world-class assembly lines, it has already produced several big names: Frank Ribery, Eden Hazard or Benjamin Pavard, to name just three.

Difficult legacy

In any case, Galtier's successor Jocelyn Gourvennec has taken on a difficult legacy, the promise of the previous season cannot be kept this time. That was already evident from the arduous start of the season. Eleven points from the first eight games mean a deficit of 13 points on Leader PSG, after all, two wins in a row have recently been achieved. In the premier class, the “mastiffs” did not get past Wolfsburg at home despite being outnumbered for half an hour and having a few chances beyond a 0-0.

The club experienced a change – albeit in the months before the championship title – also off the field. In the middle of the Corona crisis, club owner Gerard Lopez was no longer able to repay his loan from a US fund company that now also owns AC Milan. Lopez sold his shares in Lillois to an investment fund from Luxembourg, which in turn let several players move after winning the championship in order to reduce the debt burden of over 150 million euros. Lopez himself joined Girondins Bordeaux shortly afterwards, while his former team struggled to catch up.

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