With the side that finishes third in France having to take on two rounds of qualifiers, Lille president Michel Seydoux ponders the positives of missing out.
With only 10 games to go this season it was a huge weekend in Ligue 1. There were realistically six teams vying for the last Champions League place as the weekend began, but the way the results went, it was Lille that were the big winners this week, although their president Michel Seydoux is cautious regarding finishing in third spot.
“Third place does not bring any economic guarantees. This is an extremely complicated situation to manage.” He said on French radio station RMC. “There are two qualifying rounds of the Champions League…It’s better than finishing in 5th or 6th place. When I see what happened with Lyon, I am very careful. The objective at the start of the season was to qualify for Europe. This is very important. The Europa League matches would more suit a club like ours.”
Lille’s 2-0 win over Montpellier on Sunday put them in a commanding position in the race for third. They are four points ahead of Saint-Etienne in 4th; they lost 1-0 to Lorient. Lyon overtook Marseille by scoring twice in injury time at Bordeaux. Marseille had started the weekend with a 1-0 loss to Nice and slipped to sixth, now nine points behind Lille.
Seydoux is cautious as he knows the current Lille side are not equipped well to deal with the two qualifying rounds the third placed French team would have to face. If they were to make it past one side, losing in the play-off game would put them into the Europa League, a competition much more suited to their level.
Lille are also still in the Coupe de France and face Rennes for a place in the semi-finals. That too would give them direct entry to the Europa League Group Stage. Seydoux will be very wary of his side dropping out of Europe all together. Last season Lille went from 4th to 6th on the final day, losing out on a place in the Europa League. That blow has cost Lille dearly; the financial situation meant their move for French defender Sebastien Corchia this winter was cancelled because it was deemed they couldn’t afford it.
With that in mind, you would suspect that Seydoux would happily give the Champions League a try, but the drop from failing to reach the Europa League would be critical.
image: © Julien Haler