After launching my Palermo diaries as a way of tracking my journey with La Rosanero it feels only right to start one with my other love…..Lille OSC. Although I was born in Glasgow and Celtic are my “team” for the past six years I have followed the fortunes of a small team from Northern France. And now I would consider my love for them just as passionate.

My Lille journey started with a friend’s parent buying me a scarf during a trip to France. Ever since that moment I have grown to love Les Dogues, following them from the heights of the Champions League to the poor seasons when everyone was sold to the highest bidder.

Today saw the Derby du Nord played at the Stade Lille Metropole, local neighbours and rivals Racing Club Lens travelled the forty miles trip to take on the league leaders in what was always going to be a furious and heated match-up. Now if anyone can think of a better day to start a “Lille Diary” let me know.

In hindsight I should have started this diary back in August 2006. It wasn’t till the end of the 2005/06 season that I caught my first Lille game; I watched Peter Odemwingie scored twice against Bordeaux, and I was hooked.

The new season couldn’t come fast enough. Opening the campaign with a 2-1 win away at Rennes, the next weekend saw the opening home game against who else but Les Sang et Or. Nothing like a derby game to kick start your season. It will be hard to forget what I watched that day, it was glorious day in sunny Lille and the players were in the mood.

Mathieu Bodmer opened the scoring and then passed the baton to Odemwingie. Three beautiful goals later, two of which were set up by Abdul Kader Keita, it was a vintage performance from Les Dogues and there was no doubt in my mind, I loved this team.

Fast forward to today and it is exactly twenty eight days until I will be standing in the Metropole watching Lille take on Lyon in what could be a massive game in the title charge. First things first though, Lens are not in contention for the title or a European spot, but they are fighting for their place in Ligue 1.

Derby games are always tough, but when your opponents are trying to stay up a wounded animal is always more dangerous than a dead one. Two wins in a row meant Lens were as dangerous as any side in the division.

The match itself was not a great watch; you could clearly see the influence of new manager Laszlo Bodoni flowing through his side, very tough, well organised and they made it very difficult for the home side. Tackles were flying in and let’s just say they were as accurate as the shooting.

As expected Lille had the majority of the ball, lead by the little magician Eden Hazard they tried to break down the Lens defence. The home side only managed four shots in the first half, none of which were on target. The league’s top scorer Moussa Sow and highly rated winger Gervinho had quiet games, the longer the game went on the fans knew it would come down to a moment of “Hazgic” (that’s Hazard magic).

Lens came out in the second half with a bit more attacking intent, well it’s not hard when you don’t even get a single shot off in the first half. Straight from kick off Toifilou Maoulida made a bee-line for the goal and his 20 yard effort flashed safely wide but it showed more attacking intent.

Watching each unsuccessful Lille attack it was obvious that the eleven players on the pitch weren’t going to breakdown this stubborn well organised defence. The style of the match was screaming out for some height upfront, and with half an hour to go Rudi Garcia noticed it too. He made a double substitution, Ludovic Obraniak and Tulio de Melo coming on for Florent Balmont and Moussa Sow.

It is wonderful when subtle changes make a huge difference, and in just under ten minutes Lille had the lead. Eden Hazard began the move down the left, beating his man he then found Obraniak on the edge of the box, the Pole without controlling the ball chipped it towards the penalty spot and the big Brazilian de Melo stretched out his right foot and flicked the ball with the outside of boot and past the outstretched hand of Vedran Runje. A wonderful goal, and the first shot on target of the entire game, I’m sure Garcia would have had a wry smile on his face.

Yohan Cabaye could have extended the home sides lead, once with a shot from just inside the box that he should have put away and then late on when Runje had to stop Cabaye’s free kick from nestling in the top corner. Lens had a great chance to equalise in the 92nd minute but Akale was offside and his volley went over the bar.

The Heat map of Cabaye just shows the amount of work he will put into the game. With Balmont concentrating on the right side of the field and Mavuba mainly sitting deep it is up to Yohan to patrol the rest of the pitch and when he is on his game he will cause problems for any defence.

From an individual point of view the best player on the pitch was of course Eden Hazard. His heat map shows that it is impossible to pin him down, playing mostly on the left but given license to drift all the way to the opposite flank. Most of his good work is done from the left but it is impossible to man-mark Eden as he will drag your team all out of position.

Although you only get rewarded three points like any other win, derby wins are very important for the team’s morale. Lille keep their four point lead over Paris St-Germain and with Lyon and Rennes both getting beat the gap from third is now seven points.

At the start of the season the thought of Lille winning the league was a dream, now with every win it doesn’t seem as farcical. The goal should still be to qualify for the Champions League…a boy can dream though.


Before kick off, this game had the look of a potential banana skin for the league leaders, and after Leverkusen’s win against Hannover last night, it was important that the away side left the Volkswagen Arena with all three points.

In what turned out to be a comfortable first half for BvB it could have easily been a nightmare start. Lukasz Piczczek brought down Mario Mandzukic just outside the box. Diego stepped up and curled a wicked free kick towards goal, in an attempt to catch Roman Weidenfeller cold, the keeper would have been happy to see the ball fly just past the post.

Dortmund were awoken from their slumber and instantly went on the attack. Overloading the play on the right hand side, Mario Götze was sent clear down the flank, the Wolfsburg defence had been sliced open and Götze had the easy task of squaring the ball to Lucas Barrios and he gave the Champions elect the best possible start.

With most of Dortmund’s attacks coming down the right and left full back Marcel Schmelzer playing well in front of the half way line there was acres of space for Ashkan Dejagah to attack. Too often in the half the midfielder showed a lack of quality and Weidenfeller was never troubled. Grafite was calling out for some service but it never came.

The closest Wolfsburg came to a goal was through the efforts of Brazilian Diego, easily Die Wölfe’s brightest player. Halfway through the first half he hit a fizzing shot from 30 yards, Weidenfeller had to be alert to get his hands to it, the rebound fell to Grafite but the angle was tight and the keeper saved with ease.

Weathering the Wolfsburg storm with ease, Dortmund were in control. Patiently playing the ball around the Volkswagen Arena, Wolfsburg failed to put any great pressure on the ball, and Dortmund would go into the break two goals to the good.

Mario Götze again was the architect and the Wolfsburg defence had learnt nothing from the first goal. Leaving Barrios in the box unmarked, Götze found him with the pass, the Paraguayan’s shot was blocked but Nuri Sahin was alert and following up the play, his lunging shot swept the ball into the net.

Plenty of work for Steve McLaren to do at half time, however if your defence are going to leave a top International striker alone in the box you are never going to give your forward line the chance to win you the game.

Whatever McLaren said at the interval did have a slight impact. For 25 minutes they had plenty of possession and did a good job holding onto the ball, however for all the play they still couldn’t find a way to trouble Weidenfeller’s goal. Alexander Madlung’s long range effort that went high was the closet that Wolfsburg came to finding the net.

There is an old cliché that is peddled out for games like this, “When you have plenty of the ball, you have to make it count, or you will be punished”. And punished they were. Dortmund won a corner and although the first attempt was blocked it was the mercurial Nuri Sahin that collected the loose ball. The Turkish midfielder then swung in a teasing cross with his magical left foot, the ball was allowed to make its way to the back post, no one had picked up Mats Hummels and he had the easiest job to make it 3-0, game over.

In the end Dortmund as expected had too much for Wolfsburg, the constant movement of Götze, Barrios and Grosskreutz was too much for the poor Wolfsburg defence. At times it was embarrassing to watch, and too often the BvB frontline had acres of time and space to punish their opponents.

After the third goal Jurgen Klopp’s side put the big yellow bus into cruise control, they never looked like adding a fourth, but Wolfsburg never looked like getting past the excellent back line.

New signing Dieumerci Mbokani came on in place of Grafite, and he had a half chance late on, getting his head onto Dejagah’s cross, but he couldn’t direct the header and it glanced safely over the bar.

Constant images of Steve McLaren showed he was at a lose, apart from the defence it wasn’t an entirely poor performance, Diego tried but went missing in the second half, and Grafite hardly had a sniff at goal.

The big yellow machine that is BVB rolls on. Eleven points clear at the top of the table, the loss of Shinji Kagawa – out for the season with a broken metatarsal – doesn’t seem to have knocked them off their stride. Without a Europa League game to worry about it’s looking very unlikely that anyone will catch Klopp’s side. It’s Dortmund’s title to lose.


Time for another fantastic writer to make his gibfootballshow début. Michał Zachodny is the mastermind behind the superb website Polish Football Scout he discusses the possibility of a conspiracy against Polish footballers, in particular Ludovick Obraniak.

If there is something Polish football fans are getting used to it is constant failure of the national team. There are plenty of Polish players scattered around the top leagues, could the problem then be the amount of time they spend on the pitch.

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A huge welcome to gibfootballshow for Charlie Johnson. As a long suffering fan of Huddersfield Town he gives us the low down on their chances of promotion this season, and why it’s important they get out of League One ASAP

Until this season Rochdale had spent 36 years in the same division, and my biggest fear as a Huddersfield fan is that we’ll replicate that feat of stagnation and be in League One for an awfully long time.

As a team we rarely flirt with relegation, and usually come within a whisker of promotion, but ultimately we stay in the same division, with every season promising so much, but delivering only increasingly yet expected bitter disappointment.

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The wonderful people over at Pan Macmillan have given me FIVE copies of Philippe Auclair’s superb book

CANTONA – The Rebel Who Would Be King

All you need to do to be in with a chance is answer the question below and enter your email address

Competition is now closed for entrants, winners will be announced on Thursday

Good Luck!!


After watching this game the stats are surprising, there are very vague memories of Jung Sung-Ryong making a note worthy save from an Iranian shot, oh wait that’s cause Iran only had two shots on target but eleven off target. No surprises that the Koreans overcame them to reach the semis.

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Not the best game of the tournament by a long way can’t help but wish that Harry Kewell’s goal had come in the 90 minutes, it won’t matter to the Aussies though, a place in the semi-finals for them and the reigning Champions go home.

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Although Uzbekistan started strong favourites only for a quick start to the second half separate the two teams, Jordan probably left it too late before having a go at the Uzbek defence. They will be happy with their tournament overall, and in the end the best team is in the semi-finals.

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If the other three Quarter Finals can live up to the excitement and quality of the first then we are in for a treat. Five goals, some great football, excitement around the stadium, such a shame that in the end someone had to lose.

The hosts and underdogs had a great start and forced a good save from Eiji Kawashima, forward Sebastian Soria had his shot blocked however it fell to Mesaad Ali and his powerful effort forced the Japanese keeper to make a fine save. A great start from Bruno Metsu’s side and the home fans had the atmosphere jumping.

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On the pitch it has not been a good season for Stirling Albion they are currently seven games without a win, second bottom of the Scottish First Division, would be bottom if it wasn’t for Dundee’s point deduction. Let’s not dwell on the negatives though. Today Jocky Scott was announced as the new manager and he has a fight against his old club Dundee if he wants to keep them in the First Division. Jocky has a player in Gordon Smith that has the qualities to fire the team to safety.

Nineteen year old Gordon Smith is currently on loan from Hearts till the end of the season. has scored seven goals in fifteen games and if Jocky Scott can get Gordon back on the scoresheet regularly then Stirling will have a great chance of staying up.

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