In a much-anticipated Ligue 1 game on a chilly Tuesday evening between LOSC Lille and Olympique Marseille, the game seemed as if it was going to end in a 0-0 draw as the stars of the game were the goalkeepers, Vincent Enyeama for Lille and Steve Mandanda for Marseille. But a minute into second half stoppage time, Nolan Roux headed home a wonderfully-struck cross to give Lille a 1-0 win.
The last-minute win for Lille was the latest in what has been an impressive 2013-14 Ligue 1 season to date. After 16 games played, Lille have surprised many Ligue 1 observers and fans by being second in the league standings with 36 points, one behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) who play on Wednesday.
While PSG and AS Monaco have garnered the vast majority of the attention so far, how is it that they have done so well despite selling talented young players like Dimitri Payet and Lucas Digne while having lost coach Rudi Garcia?
The answer is simple. New coach Rene Girard has focused and built his team to being rock solid defensively. It all starts with goalkeeper Enyeama, who has been by far and away the best goalkeeper in Ligue 1 and probably in all of Europe. He has only conceded four goals through the first 16 games.
You read right, he has only conceded four goals in league play. Enyeama has been up to the task whenever he has been called upon, and he made several fantastic saves in the second half against Marsielle which allowed Lille to win it late.
As well, the defenders in front of Enyeama have done their part in ensuring that Lille have been good defensively. Players like the much-traveled Simon Kjaer, Djibril Sidibe, Pape Souare and Marko Basa have been the regular starting back four defense, and their play has been sensational.
Whether or not Lille can continue on this impressive and historic run in terms of defensive stoutness in league play is yet to be seen. The same can be said as to whether or not they will be able to continue to give PSG a challenge in the league for the top spot. However, what is certain is that thanks to the work of Girard and the play of the defense, Lille must be taken as serious threats who will be fighting to play in Champions League in the 2014-15 season.
And frankly, it has been fun watching Lille play as well as they have given what they’ve lost.