Tag Archives: Lille

Chelsea vs Lille – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

In an intriguing tie we’ll see the current holders Chelsea take on French league champions Lille in a tie that would be expected to go one way but could well go the other.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.

Route to the last 16

Last season’s winner and the current World champions Chelsea had a pretty good group stage, but defeat on the final day to Juventus cost them the top spot.

Tuchel’s side claimed four wins and a draw from their first five games, including a memorable 4-0 win against the Serie A giants with an excellent record of just four goals conceded.

Lille on the other hand claimed top spot in arguably the weakest group of the first round, pipping RB Salzburg, Sevilla and Wolfsburg to the berth.

Jocelyn Gourvennec led his side to three wins and two draws including wins away to Sevilla and Wolfsburg to claim their path into the last 16, also conceding just four goals throughout the group stage.

In comparison though, Lille only managed seven goals across their six games while Chelsea scored more than double that with 13.

Team news

Chelsea are still struggling with some injury problems, with wing-backs Reece James and Ben Chilwell not yet fit. Mason Mount won’t be fit for the first leg but Cesar Azpilicueta could return to the team after missing the weekend win over Crystal Palace.

Romelu Lukaku’s form is in the gutter, but Tuchel is likely to stick with the Belgian in the hope that he can play through it and find a goalscoring streak ahead of the weekend’s Carabao Cup final.

Lille are at almost full strength for the tie, with the only absentee expected to be former Manchester United attacking midfielder Angel Gomes.

The youngster was forced off injury in their latest Ligue 1 game and is now expected to miss the game, while Orestis Karnezis will miss the game.

All of Andre, Renato Sanches and Xeka are competing to start in midfield, with the former two likely to get the nod.

Breakdown and Prediction

Chelsea have moved away from their 343 formation since their wing-backs suffered with injuries, and Tuchel has since gone with a 433 formation to get back to winning ways.

They still look to keep the ball for the vast majority of the game and attack down the wings but without Mount they’ve lacked that attacking mind in midfield recently.

I expect Tuchel to move back to his 343 for this game if Azpilicueta and/or Callum Hudson-Odoi are fit again, playing as the right wing-back with Marcos Alonso reinstalled at left wing-back after his assist at the weekend.

Lille will try to soak up the pressure with their usual 442 system and try to counter with the pace of Jonathan David in attack.

Realistically they will struggle to make that effective, because it’s exactly what Chelsea are set up to play against. Lille have been okay defensively this season, but they’ve struggled to find the back of the net and have a negative goal difference in their domestic league.

Ultimately, this is Chelsea’s tie to lose. They have the better coach, better squad and if they’re on song then they should be able to win this tie relatively comfortably.

Chelsea 2-0 Lille
Lillle 0-1 Chelsea
(Chelsea to qualify 3-0 on aggregate)


Full redrawn Champions League Last 16 draw – Fixtures and dates

The UEFA Champions League last 16 draw has been re-drawn after a botched attempt on Monday morning, and has thrown up some cracking ties.

At the second attempt of trying, Manchester United were drawn with Spanish champions Atletico Madrid while Real Madrid will take on Paris Saint-Germain in the tie of the round.

Manchester City will face Sporting CP, while Liverpool take on Inter Milan. Chelsea were the winners of the redraw, keeping their original opponents in Ligue 1’s Lille.

The original draw saw Manchester United once again set to face off against Paris Saint-Germain, with Cristiano Ronaldo to go head-to-head with Lionel Messi once again in the tie of the round.

Atletico Madrid were scheduled to take on Bayern Munich in the other mega tie, while the other English sides would have been happy with their draws as Liverpool faced Salzburg, Man City faced Villarreal.

However UEFA accidentally put Manchester United into the pot to be drawn against Villarreal and then they were selected, despite being ineligible to do so having come from the same group.

United then weren’t put into the pot for the potential opponents of Atletico amid the confusion, meaning they could never have been drawn against each other.

The draw will now be re-done at 14:00 UK time after several complaints that the botched draw affected the integrity of the competition going forward.

The fixtures will take place in February, with the first legs taking place on February 15/16 or 22/23 with the second legs taking place on March 8/9 or 15/16. Group winners will play their home game in the second leg.

Full draw and fixture dates:

FC Salzburg vs Bayern Munich – February 16th 2022
Bayern Munich vs FC Salzburg – March 8th 2022

Sporting CP vs Manchester City – February 15th 2022
Manchester City vs Sporting CP – March 9th 2022

SL Benfica vs Ajax – February 23rd 2022
Ajax vs SL Benfica – March 15th 2022

Chelsea vs Lille – February 22nd 2022
Lille vs Chelsea – March 16th 2022

Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United – February 23rd 2022
Manchester United vs Atletico Madrid – March 15th 2022

Villarreal vs Juventus – February 22nd 2022
Juventus vs Villarreal – March 16th 2022

Inter Milan vs Liverpool – February 16th 2022
Liverpool vs Inter Milan – March 8th 2022

Paris Saint-Germain vs Real Madrid – February 15th 2022
Real Madrid vs Paris Saint-Germain – March 9th 2022

Renato Sanches linked with January move away from Lille

Renato Sanches has admitted he feels ready to make the move to a big club again after reigniting his career with Lille in France.

The 2016 Golden Boy award winner broke onto the scene with Benfica and with the national team during Euro 2016, before securing a big-money move to Bayern Munich.

But after a failed loan move to Swansea in the Premier League, Sanches struggled to make any sort of impact in Germany and eventually found himself falling off everyone’s radar.

That led to a move to Ligue 1 with Lille, who built a squad strong enough to compete and eventually beat Paris Saint-Germain to the domestic league title last season, with Sanches being a key player in the midfield.

That brilliant form led to him being linked with a move away from the club in the summer, before an injury ended any hopes of a potential transfer away.

Now back fit again and performing well once more, Sanches has revealed that he was close to a move to Barcelona before this season started only for the injury to scupper this season. Now however, Sanches feels he’s ready for the move to a big club should the opportunity arise once again.

Nicolas Seiwald of FC Salzburg competes for the ball with Renato Sanches of Lille OSC during the UEFA Champions League group G match between Lille...

“When I arrived at Bayern, I was not ready to play in such a club. I was very young, and when I got ready, the opportunity to play with this team never came.

“Today I feel ready. I understand football better, I have more experience, I know what to do to play in this kind of club and that changes everything.

The 24-year-old has found himself linked with a January move to both Arsenal and AC Milan, and the Portugal international has commented on the links saying he would be open to those moves.

“Maybe Milan and Arsenal are interested but I don’t know.

“I spoke with my agent, I know which clubs are calling and which are not, but I can’t tell now. I know I’m ready.

“If an offer comes in, I’ll find out what’s best for me.”

For Sanches it seems to be the perfect time to make the step up once again. His performances have finally become more consistent and his role is more defined, while he seems to have put his fitness issues behind him for the most part.

Renato Sanches of LOSC Lille and Portugal during the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between Portugal and Serbia at Estadio da Luz on November...

In France he has achieved all he can, winning the title ahead of PSG, and a move abroad to a bigger club could give him more chance of further improvement and even potential European success at club level.

He has something to prove in the Premier League after failing with Swansea so that could appeal to him, but Italy and Spain certainly seem a better fit stylistically for him.

It will be interesting, but with Lille’s reported financial troubles well reported, he will certainly represent a nice bargain for someone in January or next summer.

Lille crowned champions of France as Juventus scrape Champions League qualification

Paris Saint-Germain are not the champions of France anymore, after Lille were crowned the winners of Ligue 1 thanks to their win over Angers on the final day.

The French title race went down to the wire, with PSG needing to better Lille’s result on Sunday to be able to leapfrog them at the final hurdle and win the title for a fourth straight season.

It was never on the cards on the day though, as Lille took an early lead and never looked back. Record signing Jonathan David was put through on goal by Renato Sanches and slotted past the goalkeeper, before Burak Yilmaz smashed a penalty home on the stroke of half-time to all but seal the title in the first half.

PSG had an eventful first half of their own, with Neymar missing a penalty after mind games from the Brest goalkeeper before Angel Di Maria scored directly from a corner. Kylian Mbappe added another in the second half but that wasn’t enough though as Lille stayed firm throughout the second half of their game to be crowned champions for the first time since the 2010/11 season.

It’s an incredible achievement from Christophe Galtier’s side, who have blended youth and experience brilliantly and maintained a very exciting style of play to be able to go toe-to-toe with the billionaires in the capital.

Mauricio Pochettino’s job when appointed in January was to ensure success. While he has won two domestic cups since joining, the club were eliminated at the semi-final stage of the Champions League by Manchester City and now were pipped to the title too, in a league many deem to be a one-horse race.

Considering he only signed an 18-month contract on arrival, it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that the Qatari owners decide to cut ties now and bring someone else in this summer with a more long-term view at things.

Elsewhere on the continent in Italy, Juventus were able to scrape qualification into the Champions League on the final day after Napoli failed to beat Verona and they beat Bologna 4-1.

Ronaldo watches on as an unused substitute

Manager Andrea Pirlo made the unthinkable decision to drop Cristiano Ronaldo from the team for the must-win game, but the choice worked brilliantly as the Bianconeri raced into a 3-0 lead in the first-half. Ronaldo didn’t even come on as Juventus waited patiently, but as Napoli failed to break down Verona and were held to a 1-1 draw their fate was confirmed.

They’ll be joined in the competition by AC Milan, who beat Atalanta 2-0 thanks to two Franck Kessie penalties to finish 3rd and qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2014.

Milan had led the table for a short period during the winter, but eventually faded away and as injuries and poor form picked up their season threatened to spiral out of control. Stefano Pioli was able to manage the situation well though and saw the team win four of their last five games to secure a wonderful season for themselves.

While Ronaldo’s future will almost certainly now be called into question, Juventus will be delighted to have been able to qualify after a very rocky season. They can now focus on rebuilding the squad, with or without Pirlo and Ronaldo, to try and reclaim their place as Italy’s best.

As for PSG, they also have some big decisions to make this summer. Despite the hundreds of millions spent revamping the squad over the years, they are still in need of some big upgrades at full-back and in midfield. Add to that the fact that Mbappe is entering the final year of his contract and there is a lot going on that needs to be addressed this summer.

How Europe’s leagues can be settled on the final day

A long and crazy season is finally coming to an end, but not before a wild final day across Europe’s top leagues.

While the Bundesliga in Germany is settled, with Bayern Munich finishing as champions for a ninth consecutive season and the top four places already cemented, Spain’s La Liga, France’s Ligue 1 and Italy’s Serie A are all far from complete as we enter the final game of the campaign.

With champions and Champions League places to be settled in them all, lets take a look at all the potential outcomes of the three leagues so that you’re all caught up ahead of the games.


The French title race has been one of the most riveting all season long, with Paris Saint-Germain looking to become champions for a fourth season in a row.

Their quest for success has been matched all the way though by LOSC Lille, who have led the way with the points tally since the 20th game of the season. PSG have tried to close the gap but failed to win key games, but Lille have continued winning games to go into the final day of the season as favourites to win the title.

As it stands it’s a three-horse race, although AS Monaco will need a lot of things to go in their favour to become champions.

If Lille win their final game of the season against Angers they will be champions, no matter what else happens in the division.

Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG must better Lille’s result to become champions again. Should they draw with Brest and Lille lose, they will both end the season on 80 points but PSG will win the title on goal difference with the league breaking any ties via GD and then goals scored – not head to head.

If Monaco are to pull off the impossible, they must win their final game of the season against Lens and hope both PSG and Lille lose. On top of that, they will need a six goal swing in their favour for the goal difference. It’s unlikely, but still possible and would represent the biggest shock of all the potential possibilities.


While the champions of Italy are already crowned with Inter Milan ending the dominance of Juventus thanks to the brilliance of Antonio Conte and Romelu Lukaku in particular, the rest of the division is a free-for-all.

The four places directly below them are all still up for grabs, with the potential of Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus team finishing up in the Europa League places very real.

The final day of the season will see Atalanta take on AC Milan, where a win for Milan will not only confirm their place in the Champions League for next season but also move them above Atalanta in the league table. That would also allow Napoli to move above them with a win in their final game against Verona. Should both Milan and Napoli win their games, it won’t matter what Juventus do on the final day against Bologna as they will be unable to be caught.

Juventus must win their game and also hope one of AC Milan or Napoli do not in order to make the top four and ensure their record of appearing every year since 2012 continues. Should Andrea Pirlo’s side fail to win, then both Napoli and Milan will qualify regardless of their own results.


The simplest of all, but the most tense end to the season will be the Spanish league title race between Madrid’s two biggest clubs Atletico and Real.

The two sides, along with FC Barcelona, have competed all throughout the season to be crowned champions, with Diego Simeone’s side at one point holding a massive lead with games in hand too. However a bad turn in form earlier in the season has seen them be dragged back into the tussle and it will now go down to the final day.

Barcelona were in the race up until this past weekend, when a 2-1 home defeat to Celta Vigo meant they now were unable to match the winning points tally but the tightness of the battle between the top two was on show in the matches involving the two Madrid sides.

Atletico were able to wrap the title up during the last game, if they had won their game against Osasuna and Real Madrid had failed to win. However as Real Madrid took the lead through defender Nacho, Atleti fell behind. They managed to turn the result around however, with goals from substitute Renan Lodi and a late winner from summer signing Luis Suarez meaning the title is still in their hands.

This weekend Simeone’s men will travel to Valladolid knowing that a win will secure them a first title since 2013. Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid will however host Villarreal, who need a win to secure European football themselves next season but also have a Europa League final in the midweek following to navigate.

Should Real Madrid win and Atletico Madrid’s fail to, they will win the title in back-to-back seasons for the first time since their 2006-08 campaigns. Los Blancos’ huge win in December in the Madrid derby means they will win the league should both teams finish level on points, with Spain opting for a head-to-head tie-breaker rather than goal difference.

Renato Sanches Up For Grabs as Lille Hit Financial Trouble

A European champion is about to hit the market as French football enters a financial crisis heading into 2021.

Lille are on the verge of losing their star players thanks to a huge debt issue, which has seen the club owner have to give up control of the team to the companies he owes money to.

Renato Sanches has found himself up for sale on the transfer market as a result, and seems more ready than ever before for a move to a top club following his previous run at the top.

Having left Benfica as a wonderkid, Sanches joined Bayern Munich but struggled with the expectation and eyes on him. He found himself out of the national team reckoning and struggling to hit the potential he so clearly had.

A loan move to Swansea City failed miserably before Bayern cut their losses and sold him to Lille. Since his move to France, he has rediscovered his form and a love for the game that has seen him get back into the national team setup and now linked with a top move again.

At 23 years old now though, Sanches seems more ready than ever before for a move.

LOSC Lille - Press Conference And Training Session : News Photo

Reports suggest Liverpool and Arsenal are eyeing up a move for the box-to-box midfielder, with a fee of around €18m likely to be enough to convince the new owners to part ways.

Sanches has great dribbling skill, a willingness to break the lines with his passing and is also strong in the tackle and willing to do the dog-work in midfield. He’s almost a perfect fit stylistically for a Jurgen Klopp side, especially with Gini Wijnaldum set to leave the club at the end of the season when his contract expires.

Arsenal could look to bring him in too, with their need for midfield quality but money is tight for them too and with Mikel Arteta likely to leave the club soon after poor results its unknown what business they’ll be doing in January.

Other European clubs will be circling too, but Sanches has a point to prove in the Premier League and if Liverpool are genuinely interested then there is no club better right now. He fits their style, is young enough to have patience and he will win trophies there.

Sanches could be on his way back to the Premier League, and everyone should be on notice.

Nicolas Pepe is Never Going To Live Up To Expectations at Arsenal

In the summer of 2019, many believed that Arsenal had pulled off the coup of the summer when they beat a host of clubs to the signing of Lille winger Nicolas Pepe.

Smashing their club record, Arsenal agreed a £72million fee for the Ivorian winger who was Lille’s top goalscorer in the previous campaign with 23 goals in 42 games across all competitions.

He was quick, strong, direct, comfortable running at opponents and seemed a lethal finisher when one on one making runs from outside to in. It was exactly what Arsenal thought they needed.

Then he put on the famous Gunners shirt and he hasn’t done much since. A whirlwind of a season in 2019/20 saw Arsenal have three different managers throughout the campaign with Unai Emery sacked, Freddie Ljungberg as caretaker until Mikel Arteta took over.

Across all competitions last season for Arsenal, Pepe scored just 8 goals in 42 appearances but fans were optimistic about his future. They believed that with Arteta in charge and a consistent run in the team under the same manager, with the squad starting to look more structure and organised on the pitch, that they would get the best out of him.

It hasn’t happened.

Arteta opted to sign Brazilian winger Willian on a free transfer and he started the campaign ahead of Pepe in the pecking order for his favoured right-wing position. Even when Willian picked up an injury, Arteta opted to use Bukayo Saka in a wide position with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, with Alexandre Lacazette leading the line up front.

Pepe has made just five starts in all competitions this season, with just one of those coming in the Premier League. He scored his second goal of the season in Thursday’s victory over Dundalk, with a fine right-footed strike finding the top corner but it was just papering over the cracks of what was another dismal performance.

The 25 year old struggled to beat defenders one on one, was sloppy in possession, made poor decisions on the ball and ultimately didn’t look good enough to be Arsenal’s first-choice right winger. His goal showed he has some quality, but Dundalk are hardly the bar to be judged against.

At £72million, Pepe needs to be judged accordingly. As it stands, he is a huge flop. Everything that Arsenal thought he would bring to the table he has struggled with and he has just proven more and more frustrating as the games go by.

Many Arsenal fans are beginning to lose patience with him, while some continue to stand by him. Overall, the likelihood that Pepe ever lives up to the expectation of his £72million price tag are incredibly slim.

Arsenal fans must make the decision now on whether to continue hoping he comes good and blindly backing him with excuses, or accept that he’s not as good as they thought and as such readjust those expectations they have for him.

Despite splashing the cash and smashing their club record for a signing, Arsenal are still in a position where they need a top level winger to add some much needed quality to their squad.

What Can We Expect From Gabriel Magalhaes?

The transfer market is open and full of clubs looking for reinforcements ahead of the new season.

One name that continues to pop up that many people may not be synonymous with, is Gabriel Magalhaes. The Brazilian defender has been heavily linked with a number of clubs, including Manchester United, Everton and Napoli with a £30million move touted.

It was originally expected that he would follow Victor Osimhen to Naples, after Lille accepted a world record bid for an African player for the striker. The story that originally came out was that Napoli had made a double bid, with Gabriel being the second part of that. However, Osimhen is officially a Napoli player already and Lille’s president says Gabriel will make a decision on his future soon.

This has led to speculation that Everton could hijack the deal, with the Premier League appealing to the 6ft 2′ centre-back. But then Manchester United reportedly entered the equation. According to Mohamed Bouhafsi of RMC Sport, United have held talks with Gabriel’s representatives and Lille about a potential move although there have been no official bids yet.

So who is Gabriel? What’s he good at? Would he do well in England?

Firstly, Gabriel is a central defender from Brazil aged just 22 years old. He made 30 appearances for Lille this season in all competitions including the Champions League as they ended the campaign in fourth place following the COVID-19 cancellation. He is good in the air, quick over the ground and still has plenty of attributes that can be ironed out and coached to become even better.

If he were to sign for United, the expectation is that he would replace or at least compete with Victor Lindelof. When you compare them statistically, it has to be done with a pinch of salt. Manchester United play a more possession based game than Lille and often have to defend less in a game. With that said though, Gabriel’s stats are impressive.

According to WhoScored, on average he wins 3.2 aerial duels per game in comparison to Lindelof’s 2.7, makes 1.7 tackles per game compared to Lindelof’s 0.8 and 3.3 clearances compared to Lindelof’s 3.4. He also betters the Swede when it comes to interceptions per game, with 1.2 to Lindelof’s 0.7. So what we can establish from that is that Gabriel is a competent defender.

The next question that needs to be asked however is whether or not he’s a good partner for Harry Maguire. Maguire was signed for £85million a year ago and made captain halfway through the season when Ashley Young left. It’s fair to say he is indispensable to Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side. Maguire had a good campaign but was prone to errors and physical weaknesses that only a good partner would be able to help.

United are severely lacking in pace at centre-back with their current partnership and their other options in Eric Bailly and Axel Tuanzebe couldn’t stay fit if their lives depended on it. Gabriel would solve that issue. Along with his passing ability, his speed is one of his better attributes and helps him on the rare occasions that he is caught out of position.

He’s big and strong, quick and mobile and a good footballer with the ball at his feet. At only 22 years old, Gabriel could seemingly be the gem of a centre-back that United need to not only partner Maguire currently but to become the main man going forward.

At a reported fee of just £30million, Gabriel could be an astute piece of business and one with little risk but high reward. The experience of Lindelof and Maguire will help him in development but also mean he doesn’t have the pressure of having to play in every single game. Solskjær will have some depth in the position that he trusts and knows can all compliment each other in some form.