Date:Friday December 15 2006
Lille OSC Métropole
Stadium: Stadium Lille-Métropole, 18,195
Chairman: Michel Seydoux
Manager: Claude Puel
Greatest strength: The core of the team has been together for long years so their teamwork is fantastic. The excellent French coach, Claude Puel built a very solid side, based on a rock-solid defence.
Biggest weakness: They often lack creativity in attack as there are precious few flair players in the squad. The overall quality is quite mediocre, to be honest.
Player(s) to watch:
Efstathios Tavlaridis: A really good defender, frustrating for any opponent. He managed to annoy Sir Alex Ferguson last season when his umpteenth foul failed to earn him a yellow card at Old Trafford.
Mathieu Bodmer: The midfielder had been linked with United in the past and he's one of the reasons for Lille's stability. A very good player though I don't think he's United calibre. He's the team's top goalscorer this season with 8 goals.
Peter Odemwingie: Probably Lille's biggest attacking threat. He's second on the goalscoring charts of the club with six goals and he was effective with either Nicolas Fauvergue or Kadar Keita playing as his strike partner.
Lille's Champions League results, 2006/07
The two clubs previous encounters:
The first one came in the group stage of the 2001-2002 competition. United held the upper hand after two games, having won 1-0 at Old Trafford and achieved a 1-1 draw in France. Last season's battles highlighted United's worst Champions League performance. Lille held the Reds to a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford in an absolutely uninspiring, dull game. Paul Scholes had been sent off and Lille duly won the return leg in Paris, dealing a blow that later turned out to be fatal for Sir Alex Ferguson's men.
Some interesting facts about Lille
- The club's own stadium is too small so their Champions League ties were played at the home of their fierce rivals Lens, the Felix Bollaert-stadium.
- LOSC Métropole had been founded by a merge of two clubs, Olympique Lillois and SC Fives.
- Their six visit to England brought them two wins, three draws and only one defeat: a 90th minute David Beckham strike beat them at Old Trafford in 2001.
- They've played 22 matches in the Champions League overall and recorded 7 victories, 9 draws and 6 defeats.
- Lille manager Claude Puel joined the club in 2002 after he had won the French league title with Monaco in 2000. He'd been approached by Porto and Monaco since taking over LOSC but he turned them down.
- A lot of Lille's former players might be familiar: Bernard Lama, Jocelyn Angloma, current Lyon left-back Eric Abidal, Bruno Cheyrou, Antoine Sibierski, Pascal Cygan or Per Frandsen all wore their colours!
- They are currently third in the French league and thus they are poised to play in next season's Champions League, too. However, they have no chance for the title as they're trailing holders Lyon by 16 points.
Lille's opinion about the draw: 'We're the underdogs because they're dominating their league and even Chelsea are struggling to keep up with them. It will be a big match,' said Jerome Lestir, Lille's general manager.
Chances: The odds are heavily against Lille in this tie but United must be wary despite their excellent record against French teams. Puel's side is tough, gritty and determined and will make life uncomfortable. However, I think they won't pull off a shock result again.
Date:Friday December 15 2006
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