Both Lille and Lyon are having to qualify for the Champions League and the Europa League through the qualifying process after a third and fifth place finish last season. Lille face Swiss side Grasshopper whilst Lyon were matched against Czech side Mlada Boleslav.
Lille played their first game against Grasshopper on Tuesday night, winning in Zurich 2-0. Goals from debutant Sebastian Corchia and Ryan Mendes, one in each half, gave the French side the advantage heading into next week’s deciding fixture.
It was expected that Grasshopper would have a slight advantage over the travelling side, seeing as the Swiss league is already is full flow, meaning the squad have already played some competitive fixtures as a unit. However, Lille were unfazed by the lack of game time they had played with each other and managed to put in a strong performance that left them in a commanding position ahead of the return match.
Lille just need a draw to qualify for the group stages of this season Champions League, joining PSG and Monaco. They will be boosted by the return of Liverpool’s new signing Divock Origi as well as Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, who is recovering after the World Cup last month.
Head coach Rene Giraud said after the game that they did the job that was set out for them, but a third goal would have been nicer. He also found areas for the team to work on, saying that his players need to be more physical for the return leg, which he insists that his team will be out under extreme pressure by their opponents.
Lyon would love to be in a similar position to their Ligue 1 rivals as they face Czech side Mlada Boleslav tonight. Their first competitive game of the season kicks off in the Czech Republic, whilst their hosts have already started their league campaign.
Christophe Jallet and Mohamed Yattara are expected to make their debuts against the side that finished in 3rd in the Czech League last season. They are also no stranger to knocking Frenchs sides out of European qualifiers. In the 2006-07 season, they defeated Marseille in the qualifying round of the UEFA Cup, as it was, now the Europa League. They reached the group stage that year, before being knocked out of the group that included PSG, who they held to a 0-0 draw.
While Lyon will be confident of getting a result, they know that they face a side who was the capability of causing a real upset.
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