Lille, the bamboo blow


By: Manu Tournoux

Qualified for the quarter-finals of the Europa Conference League, Lille inherited a big chunk in the draw this Friday. He will face Aston Villa.

On the scale of the Europa Conference League, the club that the draw for the quarter-finals of the competition, which took place this Friday, designated to face Lille, is a very big piece. No luck for the Mastiffs, victorious in the round of 16 over the Austrians from Sturm Graz, and who perhaps hoped to fare much better. But fate has decided and Paulo Fonseca’s men will now have to prepare for the double shock which will pit them against Aston Villa, currently fourth in the Premier League.

Under the leadership of Unai Emery, the Villans are having a quality season so far. Still in the race to secure direct qualification for the next edition of the Champions League, they are, for example, two points ahead of Tottenham and eight over Manchester United. In the Europa Conference League, they pulverized Ajax Amsterdam on Thursday evening (4-0), after conceding a draw in the first leg (0-0). The English club’s squad is made up of experienced players. If they are not potential starters, the French internationals Clément Lenglet and Lucas Digne are examples.

But nothing is impossible

Still on the side of the composition of Aston Villa, we must of course not forget the goalkeeper, 2022 world champion with Argentina, Emiliano Martinez, nor another French international, Moussa Diaby, just recalled by Didier Deschamps after a year away from the selection. So many assets which raise fears of two very complicated matches for Lille. But the French club will also have their chance. Because if Aston Villa doesn’t lose often, it happens to completely lose track and concede a lot of goals. A real hope for the Mastiffs.

The matches will be played on April 11 and 18, with a first leg at Villa, before a return to Lille which promises a great atmosphere for Pierre-Mauroy. Jonathan David’s partners must, to maintain all their chances for their return, not sink in Birmingham. If they were to defeat Aston Villa, Lille would then be entitled to the winner of the Olympiakos-Fenerbahçe duel in the semi-final.

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