In Ligue 1, the days of the championship pass and Lille remains at the top of the standings, without this surprising anyone. At the opening of the 33e day, Friday April 16 evening, the men of Christophe Galtier have nevertheless toasted their last joker, only snatching, in the last minutes, the point of the draw (1-1) against Montpellier.
Dissatisfied with the result, the 54-year-old coach maintains his optimism about the end of the season, putting pressure on his direct opponents, PSG (returned to one point behind the leader by beating Saint-Étienne 3-2 in extremis) and , to a lesser extent, Monaco and Lyon (third and fourth): “I don’t know if we let any points slip away tonight or if we won one. But our competitors must complete a perfect course to get past us ”, he hastened to assert at a press conference.
Christophe Galtier would not want his players, who have “Desire to achieve the feat” to steal the title of champion of France from the Parisian ogre, which has monopolized him since 2013 (with the exception of 2017), miss this final sprint. Subtle leader of men, he does not hesitate to sting his incumbents in poor shape, to ward off those recalcitrant with common rules, while cajoling the substitutes who sweat blood and water to find their place on the lawn. Against Montpellier, the method has once again paid off: entered during the match, the Brazilian striker Luiz Araujo, author of mediocre performances in recent weeks, saved his team by scoring the goal of the equalizer with an elegant stroke paw.
A coach close to his players
Since his coaching debut, the former central back of Marseille and LOSC has always displayed great closeness to his players. Fabien Lemoine, today in Lorient, or Loïc Perrin, the former captain of Saint-Étienne, do not have enough praise to describe their former coach and his sense of psychology. Christophe Galtier himself likes to repeat that he “Only works on the affective”. Over the seasons, the former Saint-Étienne coach from 2009 to 2017 however took on a new shell: he had left the Geoffroy-Guichard stadium as a man with a bubbling and passionate character, we discover him phlegmatic in Lille.
Since he was called to the rescue in December 2017, replacing Argentinian coach Marcelo Bielsa, he has shown great adaptability in a club where the economic model is based on the transfers of players, themselves sources of ‘impressive added value. Accommodating incessant renewals of its workforce, it has always been able to take advantage of the men at its disposal. Like a chess player, he handles the art of the aftermath, anticipating the departures of the best, without ever complaining. “He cleverly shed his image of a rough defender when he was a player,” believes Christophe Bouchet, the former president of Olympique de Marseille (OM), who knew him on the Cannebière in the early 2000s.
A future far from LOSC?
The Lille coach seems to be unanimous wherever he goes. The few observers risking criticism accuse him of being insufficiently focused on the attack and adopting too cautious playing patterns, while his team presents the best defense in the championship (read below). Christophe Galtier, he responds with statistics that speak for him: Lille is fourth among the most prolific attacks in the French championship, with 54 goals scored. Throughout this season, the coach has also been able to highlight his offensive armada led by Turkish veteran Burak Yilmaz (35), at the top of his game, well served by arrows Ikoné, Bamba, David and Weah: “We always try to play with offensive principles, but there are times when it gets stuck. (…) Before the Christmas holidays, we were marking a lot. “
Whether or not he succeeds in winning his first French championship title, Christophe Galtier has confirmed this season that he is one of the best French tacticians. After his experience at LOSC, where he has already announced that he will not make old bones, the former defender of OM is already strongly courted by Olympique Lyonnais, OGC Nice and undoubtedly by big foreign stables like Naples. He could even see his name associated with the succession of Didier Deschamps, the day he decides to leave the France team. A credible outsider against the one who nevertheless remains the big favorite for the position: Zinedine Zidane, the current coach of Real Madrid.
Best defense in the championship with only 20 goals conceded, Lille have conceded only three losses this season against eight for Paris Saint-Germain. Alongside the Portuguese international José Fonte (37), one of the team’s captains, the Dutchman Sven Botman (21), trained at the flamboyant school of Ajax Amsterdam, demonstrated confidence and serenity worthy of the best. Decisive on many occasions, goalkeeper Mike Maignan is no stranger to the excellent course of Lille. At 25, the player trained at PSG achieves very high level performances, which can make him a natural successor to Hugo Lloris (34) in the France team. Selected once with the Blues, he should be one of the lucky ones elected for Euro 2021.