Lille has been dealt a huge blow in their search for success in both the French league and Europa League this season. Injured during the 1-0 victory over Bastia on Saturday, creative midfielder Rony Lopes, on loan from Manchester City has been ruled out for between three to five weeks after picking up a hamstring injury.
The verdict was confirmed on Lille’s official website on Tuesday morning and it is going to be a difficult time for Les Dogues in his absence.
In the league, Lille has been struggling for goals and even the creativity that leads to goals. So far this season the side that finished third last year has only scored seven times in the league. Only three teams in Ligue 1 have scored fewer goals. Amazing that Lille currently sit third in Ligue 1.
Their good position in the league comes from their excellent defence and moments of magic from Lopes and Liverpool loanee Divock Origi. The Belgian striker, back on loan at his original club has been involved in 57% of Lille’s goals so far, but Lopes has been a huge spark in the attack, and one of their best players this campaign.
Against FC Nantes, Lille were struggling to create anything in the way of scoring chances, then Lopes made his appearance after the half-time break. The impact was almost instantaneous. Within five minutes, Lopes had his first goal of the season as Origi put him through on goal and the midfielder slid his left-foot shot beneath Maxime Dupe.
It was the energy and pace that he brought to the front-line that made the difference and it’s that impact that René Girard’s side is going to miss.
Lille travel to Germany on Thursday to face VfL Wolfsburg, it is the second game of the Europa League group stage and the French side need to come away with at least a point to have a slim chance of progression. Their opening game at home to Russian side Krasnodar finished 1-1 and with tougher home games to come, anything they can take on their travels will be a huge bonus.
However, without the creativity, spark and energy that Lopes gives this side, it is hard to see how Lille can cause the German sides trouble. Someone else needs to carry the burden in the Lille attack; the problem is no one seems to fit the bill. It could be a long season for Lille if they don’t cope well with Lopes absence.