Galtier and his terrible boys: the secrets of Lille who dreams of the Champions League
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Lille is the revelation team of the Ligue 1 2018-2019. In less than a year, in fact, Les Dogues have gone from the nightmare relegation to the possibility of returning to the Champions League.
Call it second, or before normal: the substance does not change. Christophe Galtier's Lille are impressing everyone in Ligue 1 for talent, speed and organization. With yesterday's success against Dijon, Les Dogues have consolidated their second position in the standings - +5 over Lyon - which would allow them direct access to the next Champions League. Also including Paris Saint Germain, Lille have the third attack of the championship, and the second best defense of the entire Ligue 1. In short, from the stables to the stars, all in less than a season. Last year, in fact, the team closed the championship in 17th place, experiencing the nightmare relegation day after day. Today, something has changed, with the team and its fans dreaming of qualifying for the next Champions League.
An exploit, consecrated in the name of its coach: Christophe Galtier. For him, as a player, three years with Les Dogues, and also a parenthesis in Italy with Monza. The current Lille manager surprised everyone by how quickly he learned our language. A coach on the pitch, even when he played, so who knows him remembers. Visionary, ambitious and extremely intelligent, these are his greatest qualities. His coaching career is inextricably linked to Saint Etienne. There too, he took over a complicated situation, saved the team by hitting 17th place, then built his miracle. Nine seasons leading the Greens, with a success in the League Cup in 2012-2013, and three consecutive qualifiers in Europe and a title of best French coach, in the same season, ahead of Carlo Ancelotti. He had become the "green hell" idol, the stadium that greeted him excitedly before his farewell to Saint Etienne "He is our added value," said Aubameyang, who with Galtier driving signed 39 goals in two years. A tactician who always adapts to the team he faces. He loves the offensive game, and focuses on the imagination of his players, as underlined by Brandao, author of the goal that gave the League Cup to Saint Etienne: "He is a genius. He knows how to discipline us, but also how to let us have fun. If he should leave the team will be for a great club. " . This was not the case, because Galtier remained without a bench last summer, before taking over from Marcelo Bielsa in December. Situation similar to his previous experience, addressed as with ambition and planning. The result is a winner. He saves Lille last season, and is guaranteed to renew his contract until 2021, to build his new miracle. He does not like to work with short-term projects, and with his Lille he has already gone beyond all kinds of expectations.
Total merger with his players. "Terrible boys" as they are called by the French press. Yes, because the average age of the team is 23.4 years, and given the performance, we can say that the former Saint Etienne manager has already won his bets. One above all is Nicolas Pèpè. From French Serie C to great football. It is not the plot of a film, but the story of this Ivorian boy. Raised in the myth of Didier Drogba, and with the dream of playing in Chelsea, in the 2015-2016 season he was the protagonist with the Orleans (French Championnat National). Who believed most of all in his talent was Marcelo Bielsa, who despite the only 3 goals two seasons ago with the Angers, decided to focus on him, but the one who changed his life was Christophe Galtier, as he admitted the same footballer to the team: "My career has changed with the arrival of Galtier". From first point to attack outside, just like Aubameyang did at Saint Etienne. The former Angers footballer, who is leading Lille towards the Champions League with his 16 goals in 23 games, was rewarded yesterday as the French footballer of the month. Many market rumors about him in January, removed by the player himself: "I want the Champions League, I will stay here at least until the end of the season. Lille is my home". Nicolas Pèpè often thinks back to his past: "I am living a dream with Lille. Three years ago I thought of retiring". A story with a happy ending in the sights, but the Ivorian is not the only one: from Ikone to Luiz Araujo, up to Rafael Leao. The top class of 1999 is certainly the most unexpected bet that the former Saint Etienne coach is winning. In fact, he went from "supporting" status last season to Sporting Lisbon, to be the protagonist in Franca, with his 6 goals in 13 games.
In short, an explosive mix, which is projecting the team to an unimaginable goal less than a year ago. Les Dagues aim to return to the Champions League, a competition that has been missing since 2011-2012. Now or never, Lille dreams in the name of Galtier and under the banner of talent.