We weren't able to get our bilingual interview translated in time for the games yesterday between Everton and Lille OSC, but here it is anyways. Our gratitude to Everton FC France for taking the time to chat with us.
Thank you for joining us today. Would you like to talk a little bit about the riots we saw in Lille two weeks ago?
Before we start, I must tell you that I feel sorry for the events that took place in Lille at the coming of the Everton fans. French police are regularly under pressure, I know that we still go once for idiots, but it's our reality ... we know we are not proud but we see this kind of thing quite regularly. It is obvious that it is a shame.
What are the reasons for the poor form of Lille in Ligue 1?
I see three main reasons:
The only finisher is gone. Despite his irregularity and nonchalance, Salomon Kalou has scored 30 goals in Ligue 1 in two seasons. He was replaced by Michael Frey, a 20-year old Swiss, who scored his first goal with Lille last weekend. This is a totally different profile. He is bigger, beefier, and he fights the loss of the ball by pressing for it, but does not have the same technical quality nor the same quality finish (for now anyway). This is a quantitative and qualitative replacement. In fact, since then Divock Origi has become the lead striker. But because he is only 19, a full season in the legs (which was very long because of his participation in the World Cup) and "only" 9 goals in Ligue 1 in his career. His early season is a little winded, he struggles to find a real rhythm, although occasionally he is unstoppable.
LOSC not playing in Europe last season and therefore can not reproduce as effectively its strength in Ligue 1. This season, Lille was the first French club to play an official match (end of July, in the third qualifying round of the Champions League). That probably explains the good start to the season: the team was ready earlier than others. But it also says it is probably the first to physically mark the spot. Compared to 2013/2014, the workforce has an additional element (loss of Kalou, arrivals of Frey & Sébastien Corchia). René Girard is obliged to regularly rotate its workforce: the French TV "Data Room" on Canal + also showed that the LOSC had the second largest turnover among the five major European leagues, with an average of 4.33 changes to the starting 11 one game to another. It should also draw in the training center: Adama Traore already has two tenure in Ligue 1 when he has started his career there was 5 weeks.
Finally, and this is probably related to the sequence of games, LOSC had a lot of injuries in October (Simon Kjaer, Marko Basa, Rio Mavuba, Rony Lopes, Ryan Mendes, Jonathan Delaplace, etc).
We saw a fast team against Everton in the previous match, what can we expect from LOSC on Thursday?
Lille are scoring fewer goals (46 last season, this season 9) and provide few opportunities because of the lack of lateral support, lack of risk-taking and lack of co-ordination. With an organized defense and a consistent pressing, any average team seems to be able not to concede.
LOSC also concede quite a few goals, but there are flaws in my opinion. The last three goals conceded (two against Rennes and one against Saint-Etienne) came from the right side for example. None of the four side of the workforce does not seem particularly good in one against one that is more me.
But the LOSC is a team that works pretty well against good teams. For example, last season, Lille has not lost in Paris, Monaco, Lyon or Marseille.
Who are the best players of LOSC? What must Everton do to neutralize these players?
Hard not to start with Vincent Enyeama, the Nigerian goalkeeper. He is a top class goalie. The central hinge of Basa-Kjaer is excellent. It lacks speed but it is well protected.
The three midfielders Gueye-Mavuba-Balmont are also very effective in ball recovery. The main weakness of this trio is mostly the lack of offensive firepower.
Offensively, the most talented is Divock Origi, which has already been discussed above. I wish I spoke Rony Lopes, on loan from Manchester City. He is very talented but is currently injured. His contribution is all the more important that he generally plays in place of Marvin Martin, the biggest scam purchased by the club (+ € 10M, 0 goals and 7 assists, 4 on free kicks, since arrival in the summer of 2012).
What can you say about René Girard in a few words? What strategy does he use the most with the LOSC?
His arrival in 2013 was a surprise. LOSC prefers the image of a quiet club. He comes from the south of France and his choleric temperament does not fit with Lille. He has already been sent off two times this season, six-game suspension in total. While at Montpellier during a Champions League game against Schalke, was this famous moment with his magnifique doigt d’honneur (literally, 'magnificent finger of honor').
If there is any reason for his selection, it is because he knows how to work with young players: he was champion of France in 2012 with Montpellier, with 12 players from the training center in its workforce (including Rémy Cabella and Mapou Yanga- Mbiwa, today both players for Newcastle), and his best player being Olivier Giroud, who finished top scorer (25) and most assists (10).
The game produced by his team is very critical, especially since it is the successor of Rudi Garcia, now with AS Roma in Italy. The shock is brutal. However, what he accomplished last season is exceptional: Lille finished third after losing many key players through teamwork and winning close games. It was just as effective as it was boring.
Generally, he uses a 4-3-1-2. But the high turnover regularly leads to modifications of the game: Lille was 4-4-2 last weekend, and we've seen 4-3-3 this season too.
Can you predict a result for Thursday?
I see Everton winning, regardless of the score. I obviously support the French clubs in the European Cup, but they have to win their other games, not against Everton :-)