This Thursday, LOSC faces Ajax Amsterdam for the round of 16 first leg of the Europa League. A fairly balanced meeting on paper between the French club, flamboyant at the start of the season, and the Dutch team in reconstruction after the departure of some players who had participated in the epic of the 2018-2019 season.
Remember when Ajax Amsterdam amazed Europe, with their triumphant youth and slick game. During the 2018-2019 season, Real Madrid and Juventus did not resist the onslaught of Erik ten Hag’s men and were clearly eliminated in the Champions League. “When we come across stronger than us, we have to accept it. We tried to play with our strengths, but facing such a team, it’s very difficult“, explained Blaise Matuidi at the microphone of RMC Sport, after the meeting. Immediately, the whole of Europe had sung a dithyramb, in honor of the Dutch club. In a sanitized football, what better than to see young people players upset the established order by playing great football? In addition, Matthijs de Ligt’s teammates had results: they had won the Dutch Championship / Cup double, a performance that had not been achieved since 2002.
Yes but now, these successive exhibitions have cost the Dutch dearly. During the summer transfer window, all the European behemoths made the sweet eyes to the young pearls of the club to the four Champions Leagues. And the sentence fell immediately. Matthijs de Ligt signed for Juventus and Frenkie de Jong joined FC Barcelona. The following summer, it was Hakim Ziyech and Donny van de Beek’s turn to leave the ship, to go to Chelsea and Manchester United respectively. Ajax have lost their heroes, but they haven’t let themselves down. The club from the Dutch capital has once again turned to its inimitable training center. Nuggets like Ryan Gravenberch (18) or Jurgen Ekkelenkamp (20) are now an integral part of the first team. The leaders went to look for young players like Mohammed Kudus or Antony, to strengthen their workforce.
If today Ajax is far from the semi-finals of the Champions League, the club is still competitive to hope to win the Dutch championship against teams like AZ Alkmaar or PSV Eindhoven.
It’s a big blow for the Ajacids. Arrived from West Ham against 22.5 million euros, Sébastien Haller came to strengthen the attacking sector of Ajax. Except that the Dutch club shot himself in the foot all alone: he forgot to register his new recruit on the list of players participating in the Europa League. A carelessness that will have consequences, since UEFA refuses to add the attacker, because of this delay. Ajax will have to do without the most expensive player in its history in Europe, due to a blunder. And as bad news never comes alone, the Dutch club will also have to deprive themselves of their titular goalkeeper, André Onana. The Cameroonian is suspended for one year by FIFA from all football-related activities for a doping case. The Dutch club have decided to appeal this decision to CAS, but there is no indication that the player will be able to play against LOSC.
Currently in the fight with PSG and Olympique Lyonnais to win the championship, the Mastiffs have a very clear game plan. Indeed, this team has the particularity of knowing how to adapt well to its opponent: it is able to hold the ball against low blocks, but also knows how to attack in transition, against clubs that have possession of the ball.
LOSC also stands out thanks to its defensive strength. Christophe Galtier’s team have the second best defense in the championship, behind Paris Saint-Germain, with 15 goals conceded in 24 games. Offensively, this team is not left out either. She has the fourth best attack in the championship and can count on a Jonathan Bamba on fire since the start of the season, as the latter is the best assisting assist in Ligue 1, with eight offerings.
Thanks to these aspects and a very complete workforce, Lille can be credible candidates for the title in France. Even if, for the moment, Christophe Galtier is not putting himself under pressure as he explains regularly in a press conference: “We are not favorites. Four teams can fight for European places now, and others can also return after catching up on late matches.“Against Ajax, the Mastiffs will have to make two perfect matches tactically to hope to pass.