Welcome back to the LOSC Lille career mode! In this week’s edition we’ll smash through three games and take a look at how the other French teams in the Champions League did as we play Chelsea in our final game of the Group Stages. We’ll also be able to see who we draw next as we dare to dream of a quarter final?
First game coming up straight away is Stade Brestois at home. A game that we simply have to get 3 points from, not for importance but because they’re bottom of the table right now. A win here would be the first win in 5 league matches. I think we’ve managed three points from 5 games? No wonder we’re falling down the table.
Ligue Un Matchday 17:
LOSC Lille vs Stade Brestois 29 at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy 07/12/2019
Players were still feeling it from both the Lille and the Dijon game but in some areas and due to injuries I simply didn’t have any fresh legs. Both Bamba and Remy started with a slight stamina decrease, whilst Djalo and Faraj filled in for the tired legs of Fonte and Ikone/Yazici. Quite a strong side really but I also didn’t want to take any chances and wanted to start building up the W’s.
So coming up against bottom of the table I was fairly confident that we’d get a result from this. Especially with the team that we put out. We started well with Remy finding it easy to turn the back line and create chances. Stade Brestois weren’t afraid to put together some nice football though and did cause me concern a couple of times. We won ourselves a free kick, took it quickly and Osimhen, possibly learning from Remy, turned his marker and sprinted into the box before smashing it near post from close range to make it 1-0. Osimhen again providing the goods. We could tell we were up against bottom of the league because a couple of chances that would have been buried by a good team were fluffed ridiculously far wide. Closing on 40 minutes gone, Andre found Osimhen who after a collision with his marker found the ball again. The confusion had stumped Remy’s marker giving Remy chance to get up to speed as Osimhen threaded a ball through into the box. Remy opted for placement from close range, sticking it top bins well out of reach of the keeper to make it two. Closing on half time, Andre pitched a perfect ball over the top for Bamba to collect, he was ahead of his markers and had the pace to stay there. 1 on 1, he decided to try and give a team goal by threading it through to Osimhen, placed it into the centre but put too much on it! Remy collected it and crossed it back in, it went too deep to Sanches who was filling in, he kicked it up high into the middle, the football was so scrappy!! An attempted header clear left the ball to fall to Andre about 10 yards out unmarked, he then blasted it goalwards and it went past Larsonneur to make it 3-0 at half time. Good solid play and it meant we could calm it down in the 2nd half.
I told the lads they could calm it down now, just keep it solid and control the game to see it through. Osimhen was ever after goals though creating chances and attempting to score more. The trouble with sitting back is that it gave the opposition some control and momentum and it caused us issues. They could create more chances through this and if we weren’t solid at the back (and if they weren’t as bad as they were) they could’ve scored on several occasions. Maignan made an exquisite save in the 81st minute as they built up and found a man free about 12 yards out. He went near post but Maignan could parry it out for a corner. Now they committed so many men forwards that when the ball was cleared to fresh legged substitute Weah, he ran out wide and in behind with so much pace the CB’s couldn’t keep up and soon ran out of energy to keep trying. He crossed it short to Yazici who just had a simple tap in to increase the lead to 4-0. Brestois still pushed on and created another two great chances as the game closed out but nothing came of them. If not for Maignan in the 81st minute though, it could have been a much tighter finish. Importantly, we got our 3 points, we finally got a series
An important result. We’ve finally managed to bag a win, it only took us having to play the worst team in the league but we did it! Maybe from this we can build up a bit of momentum again and at least get back into the top 4 before the new year.
After the game we also got a nice text from Benjamin Andre thanking us the for the game time he’s been getting.
Next we had the game against Chelsea in the Champions League which no matter the result meant we would be confirmed top of our group. As stated before I was planning on playing an entirely second string team (or lower).
Champions League Group Stages Match 6
Chelsea vs LOSC Lille at Stamford Bridge 11/12/2019
As you can see here we’ve selected an extremely weakened side. An average rating of just 71. Mostly 2nd XI starting, although Ouro-Sama started as Djalo was tired from the Brestois game. Ouattara started due to the injury to Araujo.
The big talking point of the upcoming transfer window is a rumoured sale of Edinson Cavani to Juventus for around £30mil. This was mentioned pre this game, if that were to happen and PSG didn’t find an adequate replacement it could allow a chance for the other French teams to make some ground on them in the league.
I came here wanting to just get a draw in all honesty. The boys in blue weren’t too far off a Starting XI so I played a very possessive game, asking the lads to keep the ball. Repeating the mantra, “you can’t play football without the ball.” They did that excellently and defended really well. Ouattara even managed some great skills moves past the Chelsea defence and set Postolachi up for a bicycle kick attempt! However, the class difference showed because we really didn’t cause Chelsea many problems at the back other than that. Whilst we defended well, it took us a while to get the ball and hence why despite playing such boring football we still only had 50% possession at the break and it was kept at 0-0.
Apologies but I missed the 1st half match facts screenshot!
Chelsea came out with a bit more gusto in the second half. Whilst still not being too incredible on the attack, they created more and had more opportunities in the second half. Similar chances to the first half though, good chances for Chelsea headers. Our biggest chance fell from a poor Kepa clearance that our reserve CM Onana was able to win back. It fell to Kouame (the other reserve CM) who found Weah. Weah turned his man, ran into the box and put a driven cross across the six yard area which seemed to miss everyone until Ouattara ran onto it at the far post and had a simple tap in past Kepa and the young prospect managed to bag a Champions League goal! 1-0 to us, simply unexpected going into the game. From this moment Chelsea increased their attacks further and we struggled to really create much else. Kovacic a major driver for their attacks, as he lead one past a foul from Onana. Found himself with a second free in the box to line up a shot, it was hit hard towards the top corner but Jardim was able to get their and parry it into the air. Only to Pulisic though who had the ball around 10 yards from goal but on the left hand side at an acute angle. He crossed it back into the middle but it was too soft and too close to Jardim who was able to catch it easily. From then nothing truly scary happened and we were able to see off the 1-0 win. Making it 4 wins and 2 draws in the group stages. Not bad indeed for the underdogs going into the group.
A very surprising result indeed! More the reason that I think with the European games I will have to up the difficulty to Ultimate because I feel I should definitely have struggled more in my group. Below the group picture there’s also a table dictating what the teams were rated at the start of the season.
How our group ended up:
As noted previously we had guaranteed 1st spot and our result against Chelsea just pushed us further. Ajax didn’t capitalise on Chelsea slipping up but Valencia’s win against them wasn’t great enough to push their goal difference higher than Chelsea’s so Chelsea held on to a second place finish. Now that I’ve met the objective I may decide to implement an ultimate difficulty challenge or amend the sliders similarly to how there is a “harder legendary” set. So possibly decrease AI shot error to 50, decrease AI pass error to 50, and FT control to 50. I might try the latter first, and then increase to Ultimate if I find the round of 16 too easy.
I did a quick check on Chelsea’s team that lined up against us and the XI’s average was 83 so I really shouldn’t be beating them 1-0 (although towards the end I did notice they had stamina issues which could explain things; I assume because they play their best XI in the league and in Europe?).
Now let’s take a look at how our fellow French teams did:
In Group A the Ligue Un leaders, whilst pitted against Real Madrid, didn’t have too much competition for their second place finish. Real Madrid proved their prestige with a flawless group stage. Whilst in Group G it was always a race between three teams although it would have been a fair upset for RB Leipzig to finish above Lyon. Lyon secured that second spot whilst Benfica finished a perfect group stage with 6 wins out of 6.
Following this the board gladly got in touch with us and explained that we had just earned just shy of £28 million for our progression into the next round. This will help us with our push for a top 3 next season. I believe it should also help with the financial objectives too? Not 100% on that though.
We also finished our first objective of the campaign, reaching the knockout stage of the Champions League.
But now the most important part, who have we drawn in the Round of 16?
Napoli. Not bad in fairness. I feel with a good performance from us we could cause an upset but we would have to be at our best. We can see that PSG will be facing Benfica and Lyon will be facing Real Madrid; a tough draw for them.
Then the board got in touch with us again! Only not so positive this time, complaining about the marketing objective again. This will be sorted in January. The board needs to take a chill.
Then Soumare got in touch asking if he could play in the upcoming Montpellier game.
Ligue Un Matchday 18:
LOSC Lille vs Montpellier HSC at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy 15/12/2019
The first of two big games against rival teams competing for that 4th spot finish. We were able to put out our ideal XI. At home, we should be getting three points if we want to finish above these.
The first ten minutes we controlled well. We decided the tempo, kept it calm in the middle and then on our terms we built up two very good chances: one for Osimhen and one for Remy but both were saved well. From there on the game didn’t necessarily calm down but the standard’s of the end product just dropped. Chances were created but the shots were either off target, weak easy saves, or blocked. Montpellier had a great chance 34 minutes in however Maignan was able to save the shot from Delort following a counter off an interception. Around 40 minutes in, Montpellier built up and got in behind on the right hand side of the box, La Tallec being threaded through leaving Fonte on his own to pressure him but also aware of the incoming runner in behind. Celik was caught sleeping which left two unmarked Montpellier strikers in the middle, the ball came in and Fonte had managed to cover the nearside but Dolly had left Celik in his dust and scissor kicked the ball into the back of the net from close range. 1-0 to the visitors. This gave us a kick up the bum and from the kick off we pushed back, ball was given to Osimhen who showed his strength and speed to run past Mendes. Mendes must have thought he’d pushed him deep enough but then out of nowhere Osimhen fired a shot across goal and it flew into the left hand side of the goal, Rulli wasn’t expecting that and just a couple minutes after conceding we were back at level terms. 1-1. Right before the break in the 3rd minute of injury time though Montpellier were on the counter. A 4 vs 4 situation. They built up quickly and doubled back on occassion to throw the defensive line off which worked. Savanier managed to thread Laborde through on goal with just Maignan to beat. He came to meet Laborde, who I was aware was one of my secondary ST targets for January, Laborde slotted it near post but somehow Maignan got a hand to it and nearly stopped the ball dead. Bradaric caught up, smashed it to the side and the ref called half time.
The build up to 60 minutes was similar to the middle of the first half. Although it was controlled mainly by us with 75% possession for those 15 minutes. Gabriel bailed us out 58 minutes in stopping a cross that would have lead to a certain goal. Following the corner, we came up on the counter with Yazici down the right hand side. As he entered the box he saw Bamba open on the far side, a ball in drew the keeper out but Rulli should have stayed back as he misjudged the flight path. Bamba scuffed the header but it was still enough to bounce into the goal to make it 2-1 to Lille, first time taking the lead in the match. Montpellier came back at us then, gaining more possession and pressing us higher up the pitch. We remained calm and kept the tempo to a suitable pace so we didn’t burn out. Major penalty appeal on the 69th minute! Osimhen shoved aside by Cozza but Cozza was deemed to be in control of the ball at the time. From there the game went back into it’s controlled tempo but possession being shared by both sides. In the 85th minute Montpellier really started passing well again, two and fro, quick first time passes. They found their way down the left side, Yun Il Lok broke past the defensive line and then cheekily backheeled it as a lay off to Savanier who smashed it goalwards but Gabriel was there to make the crucial block late on and deny the visitors a point. From there nothing too crazy happened and the game finished 2-1. We got the win and that’s back to back victories!
Big, big three points at home. Against a top 4 rival, wonderful work from the boys. Back to back wins, a sign that we may have turned a corner and ended that dry spell that plagued us last month and at the start of this month.
A little note on the Montpellier match, I actually made changes to the sliders (again). I’m now running the short halves version of OS Community Sliders. More importantly I researched and found that I needed to disable timed finishing. The difference seemed to be incredible (although it could be a placebo just based on the result). I’m going to try and keep this set unchanged for a while now and build a case for it.
So we got back and I saw a text from Soumare. I had completely forgotten about his request to play in the last match! In the end I had to try and just pass it off and talk about squad rotation. In fairness he does get plenty of games so I doubt it will cause too much tension in the future.
That win against Montpellier though was big. A look at the league and you’ll see now there’s a six point gap between 5th and 6th. After the poor run of form we’ve been in, to be within reach of the top 4 and to have a slight gap to the nearest competition gives me a glimmer of hope. With a run of form to come we might be able to close that 7 point gap to the top 3 slightly.
Our next game is Monaco away. A look at the league again will show how important this is. A win would mean that at the halfway point we’d find ourselves back in the top 4 where we should be (only on goal difference though). We have to get a result on the road to really get us back on our feet. I’ll have a good squad available for the match and they’ll be ready to throw everything they have at it.
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