• Arthur Barratt

LILLE BIT OF MAGIC: HOW A SMALL FRENCH CLUB COULD END PSG'S REIGN


Ever since Nasser Al-Khelaifi took over Paris-Saint Germain, the club has dominated French football, backed by his $8 billion fortune.


Despite this, Lille, under head coach Christophe Galtier, are on the verge of pulling off a miracle and beating PSG to the title, going into the final two games 3 points ahead.

Football fans around the world have turned their heads towards Ligue 1, especially after unexciting title races in England, Germany and Italy.

So, how have this small club from northern France pulled this off?


Clever Transfer Business


After selling star players Victor Osimhen and Gabriel for over £80 million this summer, nobody expected the Lille squad to be strong enough to compete.


However the club invested wisely, bringing in Sven Botman from Ajax for £7 million, and Jonathan David from Genk for £22 million.


Both players have been a huge success, with Botman especially standing out, with his value more than tripling through the season.


Surprisingly their best bit of business though has been the capture of veteran Burak Yilmaz on a free transfer, with the journeyman striker hitting the form of his life this season.


Perfect Mix of Youth and Experience


All over the pitch, Galtier has mixed youth with older players, and it has proven to provide the perfect balance between youthful energy and experience.


Upfront David, 21, and Yilmaz, 35, have both been in great form. David struggled at the beginning of the season, but now has 15 goal contributions in the league.


Yilmaz has been even better, with 20 goal contributions in just 26 games. His outstanding displays have wowed fans all season, just go watch his goal against Lens!


It’s Galtier’s defence which has propelled the club to the top of Ligue 1 though, with the club only losing three league games all season, compared to PSG’s eight.


Goalkeeper Mike Maignan has become one of the best in France, and has now been touted for a move to AC Milan come the summer.


Botman, 21, and Jose Fonte, 37, have surprised everyone and become one of the best centre back pairings in the game, amazing considering Fonte had already signed his first professional contract when Botman was born.


In front of them, Boubakary Soumare, has also been excellent, providing great defensive cover from midfield.


Failings at PSG


Though a tremendous amount of credit should go to Lille, they wouldn’t have been able to win the title without some major problems at PSG.


Even after sacking Thomas Tuchel mid-way through the season, the sides form has not picked up, with Mauricio Pochettino having the worst start of any PSG manager since they were taken over by Al-Khelaifi.


Along with the drama behind the scenes, PSG have had major injury problems, with Neymar unavailable for much of the season. The Brazilian isn’t even in the top 10 scorers in Ligue 1.


All this, along with brilliant planning and performances from Lille, has led to the perfect storm to topple PSG, expect them to be back fighting next season though.