After the Champions League, Tuesday and Wednesday, it’s the turn of the Europa League to start this Thursday. At 6:55 p.m., the OGC Nice will open the ball with the Germans of Bayer Leverkusen, followed by Lille, also on the side of the Czechs of Sparta Prague (9 p.m.). Here are several things to know about the two French clubs in the running (Reims was taken out in the 2nd preliminary round) and their first opponents.
Nice in a better position. The draw made on October 2 was rather balanced for the Azureans, who inherited, after Leverkusen (quarter-finalist last year), the other Prague club (Slavia) and the Israelis Hapoël Beer- Sheva. This draw, however, was not the most tender for the Northerners. In addition to Sparta Prague, they will indeed be opposed to the Scots of Celtic Glasgow and AC Milan of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Lille with confidence. Leaders and the only undefeated team (with Stade Rennais) in Ligue 1, Christophe Galtier’s players are on three consecutive successes, including a very clear one in the derby against Lens (4-0). The only Lille question mark concerns the Canadian Jonathan David, his forward striker. Arrived from La Gantoise to replace Victor Osimhen, who left for Napoli, Losc’s biggest purchase (27 million euros) has still not marked …
The two teams on familiar ground. Lille and Nice are not novices in European competitions. The first has played in the round of 16 five times, including the Champions League in 2006-2007. That year, the Northern club beat AC Milan at San Siro (2-0). Nice was in the C1 quarterfinals in 1957 and 1960. In 1997, the Aiglons reached the 8th place in the Cup Winners’ Cup (C2), released by… Slavia Prague.
Patrick Vieira is chasing the Cup. The Nice coach’s record deserves a book in itself. As a player, the 1998 world champion also climbed on the roof of Europe with the Blues (2000), was titled in Italy (five times champion), England (three league titles and four Cup), won the Champions League with Inter (2010). In short, a beautiful showcase, except for one detail. In the UEFA Europa League Cup, he was “only” a finalist in 2000 with Arsenal. If he wins this year, it will also be his first trophy as a coach (a position he has held since 2016). And that will be an achievement.
Rio Mavuba has seen it all. This is the little nod to this non-exhaustive selection. Because if there is one who is affected by the Sparta Prague – Lille match, it is Rio Mavuba. We do not necessarily know, but the former international (13 caps) played for both clubs! After ten years in the North, he ended his professional career two years ago in the Czech Republic, where he was notably confronted with racism, as he explains in his book. No doubt his heart will not swing this Thursday evening …
Article original de: www.leparisien.fr