The lowdown on Chelsea’s Champions League opponents Lille

Chelsea must beat Group H also-rans Lille on Tuesday to keep their fate in their own hands and qualify for the Champions League knockout stages.

Here, PA examines the French visitors to west London.

Osimhen on the goal trail

Victor Osimhen, centre left, scores against Chelsea in October
Victor Osimhen, centre left, scores against Chelsea in October (Joe Giddens/PA)

Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen has hit the ground running since his summer switch from Wolfsburg, with 11 goals – two in Europe, including one against Chelsea – and three assists in 21 appearances. That form has alerted a clutch of suitors and the 20-year-old could already be prised away as soon as January. Chelsea will know they must keep the bustling frontman quiet if they are to secure victory on Tuesday night.

Galtier battles backroom losses

Jose Mourinho, Joao Sacramento and Nuno Santos, from left, on the Tottenham bench with
Joao Sacramento, second left, and Nuno Santos, centre, joined Jose Mourinho at Tottenham (John Walton/PA)

Christophe Galtier spent eight years as St Etienne manager before switching to Lille in 2017. The former Marseille and Lille defender won the Ligue 1 manager of the year award after steering the team to a second-place finish last term. That hard work and quality approach piqued interest in not just his own services but his backroom staff too, and Jose Mourinho lured coaches Nuno Santos and Joao Sacramento to Tottenham when he took the north London helm. That has left Galtier to plug the gaps, but Lille still sit third in France’s top flight.

Champions League struggles

  1. Ajax, 10 pts
  2. Valencia, 8
  3. Chelsea, 8
  4. LILLE, 1

While Lille have maintained a solid record in the league, Galtier’s men have struggled for any kind of joy in Europe. A home draw against Valencia remains Lille’s solitary point in Group H, while the Spanish side thrashed them 4-1 at the Mestalla last month. Double defeat by Ajax and a home loss to Chelsea has left Lille propping up the group standings.

A new role for Renato

Renato Sanches, left
Renato Sanches, left, has been revitalised at Lille (Laurent Cipriani/AP)

A teenaged Renato Sanches failed to handle the pressure of a big-money move from Benfica to Bayern Munich back in 2016. He even wound up on loan at Swansea for a season as he battled to rebuild brittle confidence and patchy form. But now the 22-year-old appears ready to find his feet once more, especially in a new position with Lille. Galtier has taken to deploying the pacy midfielder on the right of a trio behind a solitary striker in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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