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Europa League PREVIEW: Wolfsburg vs Lille (2/10/14)

Wolfsburg got their Europa League campaign off to the worst possible start, collapsing 4-1 away to Everton in their opening group game. Despite the scoreline, the German side created a lot of chances in the second half and, after a good win on Saturday over Werder Bremen, they will be looking to get their first points in Europe against Lille. Lille had to settle for a 1-1 draw in their opening group game but, given the unexpected threat that Krasnodar posed, Rene Girard’s men might well have seen it as a point gained rather than two points lost. 

Liverpool loanee Divock Origi scored his third goal in six Ligue 1 games at the weekend to guide Lille into 3rd in the French top flight, as they brushed aside Bastia to continue their impressive start to the domestic season.

Squad Selection and Tactics

Rene Girard will be concerned by a growing injury list, which will be the biggest influence on his selection for the trip to Germany. Marcos Lopes and Jonathan Delaplace both picked up knocks against Bastia, and they join Nolan Roux, Rio Mavuba, and winger Marvin Martin on the sidelines.

Girard will likely turn to the experience of Florent Balmont in midfield in a likely partnership with Idrissa Gueye in front of the back four. Ronny Rodelin looks set to be drafted in to the starting eleven too, linking up with the impressive Origi and Ryan Mendes to form an attacking trio in support of Michael Frey.

For Wolfsburg, Vieirinha could make his first start in the Europa League this season after an impressive performance from the bench this weekend. Maximilian Arnold is a doubt for the squad after missing the game at the weekend with the flu.

Tactically, Lille will rely on their experienced defence to battle for a result. With their significant injury list, Les Dogues will be happy with another point on the road; ensuring they stay undefeated in the competition, and above their German rivals.

Wolfsburg will be desperate for a victory, particularly at home, if they are to progress through a tricky group and into the latter stages. They will be looking to Kevin de Bruyne to be the main creative fulcrum of the side, in support of veteran striker Ivica Olic.

Danger Men

Divock Origi (Lille) – the 19-year-old’s impressive start to the season continued at the weekend, and the Belgian striker now has three goals and two assists in six Ligue 1 games. With his pace and power, he will be a threat to Wolfsburg on the break and is especially dangerous bursting in from wide areas.

Ivica Olic (Wolfsburg) – Wolfsburg have lacked a top-class striker since the departure of Edin Dzeko to Manchester City. In Ivica Olic, brought in on a free from Bayern Munich, they have a reliable forward with a superb work ethic. The Croatian is always full of running and lethal inside the box. If Wolfsburg are to progress, he will be key.

Prediction

With Lille’s squad ravaged by injury, Wolfsburg will be the favourites going into the game. Expect Lille to sit back defensively and use their speed in attack to threaten. Whether they can withstand the German pressure for the whole game remains to be seen, but if they can head back to France with a point, they will be very pleased.

Prediction: Wolfsburg 1-1 Lille

O.M.

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