Bribery is commonplace in football at a substandard level. Where the word bribery sounds too harsh. Rather, an additional motivation would be the right choice of words. Towards the end of a season, when some teams have run out of business, there’s always a box of beer, a barbecue or more to keep the teams busy when they need help from other clubs.
The small “bribes” on lower levels are of course not reprehensible and are in the amateur sector somehow. A game in the Champions League has a similar starting position on Tuesday night.
But for OSC Lille, the prospect of a box of beer will hardly cause the French to sacrifice themselves in their final group game. The reigning runner-up of Ligue Une has been eliminated prematurely as a sure table last, but could still tip the scales in the final match against Chelsea London.
Although the Londoners are currently only third in the table, they have themselves in the round of the last 16 in their own hands, as Ajax Amsterdam and Valencia FC take each other away the points. The two clubs, who are dueling in the Dutch capital at the same time, could only advance into the knockout stage if Lille manages to make a surprise on the island.
However, this exit is also more than unlikely. The kick-off on Stamford Bridge will be at 20:00 on Tuesday evening and just under two hours later it will be decided which two clubs will receive the round of 16 knockout rounds in Group H.
The London clubs are in crisis! Arsenal and Tottenham have each already exchanged their coaches Pochettino and Emery to stop the negative run, and Chelsea FC are not going according to plan either. Three of the last four league games have been lost. At the weekend, there was another defeat at the Everton FC for the Blues.
At Goodison Park, guests rarely turned their 70% possession into goal-oriented goalscoring. Add to that the big defensive problems. With 24 goals in the Premier League, Chelsea have the weakest defense of the top 12 teams in England. So coach Frank Lampard knows what he needs to work on.
A quick improvement to Tuesday is needed to not jeopardize the entry into the knockout stages of the premier class. The task seems to be simple, since the so far winless guests are already eliminated and may not travel to the island with the greatest motivation. Nevertheless, the game must first be won.
In a win, it depends on the outcome in parallel play in Amsterdam, whether the blues even finish as group winners in the preliminary round. For this Valencia should get at least one point at Ajax.
What personal change Lampard will make compared to the appearance on the weekend, is open. The list of injuries and losses is quite long and so there are not that many alternatives to the starting eleven against the Toffees.
As sole tip could act again the young Tammy Abraham. Willian and Christian Pulisic are to support the youngster over the wings. Mason Mount has recently earned a regular place on the 10th position. Again, without the German national player Antonio Rüdiger, it is necessary to fill the defensive gaps in order to advance with a sovereign threesome on their own in the knockout stage.
Between Chelsea and Lille, guessing odds on the game’s outcome suggest that anything but a home win in that game would be a big surprise and even greater disappointment to the blues.
What an English week for OSC Lille! The runner-up in the previous season moved from third to seventh place in the table of French Ligue Une from midfield – although only three goals succeeded in the three games against Dijon, Lyon and Brest. But with these goals, the maximum yield of nine counters was fetched.
The squad of coach Galtier won three times with their favorite result of 1-0 and was able to rely again on the old strength on the defensive, which led to the last year to the entry into the Champions League. The triple burden was a bit too much for the young team and despite decent appearances OSC leaves chance from the premier class.
The paid training money was nevertheless important for the development of the players. According to current status, the club could also qualify in the coming season for the elite league of Europe. Another deciding factor that has contributed to the good run recently was the French goal-hungry striker, who was voted Africa’s best junior player.
20-year-old Nigerian Victor Osimhen was responsible for the golden goal in two of the three games and is currently a hot candidate for the top scorer in Ligue Une. Whether Osimhen and his teammates will be on the pitch on Tuesday is open.
In the current hot phase just before Christmas and before the important home game against Montpellier at the weekend, it is easy to imagine that the guests will spare a few players.
Apart from the prestige for OSC, it’s purely athletic and only about the golden pineapple. Between Chelsea and Lille, the prognosis can be made that there will be some changes in the starting lineup, but these are difficult to predict. Coach Galtier will know which of his charges needs a breather and who does not.