The Ligue 1 is considered to be one of the top five competitions in Europe, but still, over the years their credibility has always been questioned. The dominance of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and failure to fare well in competitions like the Champions League and Europa League, have made them a laughing stock, but since the last season, a change was noticed.

Alongside, PSG, teams like Lyon, Monaco, Olympique Marseille, and Lille have been showing signs of improvement and in this season, Lille beat PSG to win the Ligue1 title, thus, making the competition interesting and exciting than before.

They also boast the best away record in the league with 43 points from 18 games and have conceded only 22 goals – a better defensive record than Manchester City, Bayern Munich, and Inter Milan during their title-winning campaigns this season.

Despite some setbacks within the club through the season with a change of owner and chairman and the departure of sporting director Luis Campos, Galtier and his squad still managed to stay focused in one of the most exciting title races in Europe this season.

Lille Olympique Sporting – commonly called LOSC, also referred to as LOSC Lille, Lille OSC, or simply Lille was founded as a result of a merger between Olympique Lillois and SC Fives. Both clubs were founding members of the French Division 1 and Lillois was the league’s inaugural champions. Lille’s most successful period was the decade from 1946 to 1956 when the team was led by managers George Berry and Andre Cheuva.

Before the Second World War, the city of Lille had two clubs in Ligue 1; Olympique Lillois and Sporting Club Fivois. Weakened by the war, the two clubs decided to merge in the autumn of 1944, giving birth to Lille Olympique Sporting Club (LOSC).

Within its first decade of existence, the new club won two league titles and reached second place for four consecutive seasons. In the Coupe de France, the club accumulated five wins in seven finals, including five successive finals. The final of the Latin Cup was also reached.

Lille were relegated for the first time in 1956. The club became a mid-table side and in the late 1960s, after a long period of anonymity, and weighed down by a lack of facilities and resources, Lille abandoned its professional status.

It was feared that the club might disappear. However, some young leaders, such as Max Pommerolle, came and gave new impetus to the club.

Nevertheless, the results remained erratic and the only titles that ignited the fans’ passions were won in the Second Division.

In July 1980, Lille was the first French club to opt for the status of a mixed economy company, of which the city of Lille became the majority shareholder. The team of presidents Amyot, Deschot, and Dewailly all struggled to compete with the top teams in the country.

Jacques Amyot’s resignation in 1990 led to three more difficult years for the club which compromised its very existence.

It took Bernard Lecomte’s arrival in 1993 to set the club finances on the road to recovery. After a final relegation in 1997, the team trained by Bosnian coach Vahid Halilhodzic was soon promoted back to the elite, in the same year the French Football League was privatized.

In just its first season back in the top flight 2000–01 French Division 1, Lille qualified for Europe for the first time in the club’s history, booking its place in the 2001–02 Champions League.

On the back of the club’s new status, Lille entered into a decisive new era under the guidance of chairman and chief executive officer Michel Seydoux and coach Claude Puel.

The club left the historical Stade Grimonprez-Jooris to join the Stadium Lille Metropole and became a regular on the European scene.

Amongst its most emphatic results was the 1–0 victory over Manchester United at the Stade de France in 2005, the 2–0 triumph over Milan in San Siro in 2006, and the 1–0 home win over Liverpool in 2010.

Under the expert hand of Coach Rudi Garcia, took Lille back to the summit of the French game with the League and Cup double in 2011 since the club was founded after World War II.

In 2012, LOSC confirmed its place at the top table of the domestic game with another qualification for Europe’s most prestigious club competition, the Champions League in 2012–13.

With the club finishing just outside the UCL places that season, Garcia left to join Roma, while former Montpellier coach René Girard was appointed the new Lille manager.

Since Garcia left the downfall started.

After two years in charge of the club, Girard left his role as the head coach by mutual consent. He was joined by assistants Gerard Bernadet and Nicolas Girard in making the exit.

In May 2015, the Ivory Coast national team head coach Hervé Renard was appointed as the new manager.

In November 2015, Renard was terminated as manager and was replaced by Frederic Antonetti.

In November 2016, a year after being appointed, Lille terminated Antonetti’s contract with the club lying second last on the table.

In March 2017, Lille appointed Marcelo Bielsa as the new manager of the club. In November 2017, Bielsa was suspended by Lille following an unauthorized trip to Chile with the club lying second from the bottom on the table again and only managing 3 wins from the first 14 games of the season.

In December 2017, Bielsa was terminated by Lille and replaced with former Saint-Etienne manager Christophe Galtier.

After a difficult 2017–2018 season, Lille managed to avoid relegation to Ligue 2 by defeating Toulouse 3–2 in the second last game of the campaign.

In the 2018–19 Ligue 1 season, Lille secured second place to qualify for the 2019–20 Champions League group stage, they returned to the competition after a seven-year absence.

And in 2020-21, they are the champions of Ligue 1.

It has been a collective effort as the team was an ideal blend of youth and experience.

Mike Maignan has had a wonderful season in goal, while the center-back pairing of 37-year old Jose Fonte and 21-year old Sven Botman has been the best in the country.

In the midfield, 30-year old Captain Benjamin Andre has led by example, guiding huge talents such as 22-year old Boubakary Soumare and former Bayern player 23-year old Renato Sanches.

Upfront, Burak Yilmaz was in sensational form during the final stretch of the campaign, scoring six goals in the past five matches.

The Turkey international had never played outside of his country, but at 35, he has been one of the standout performers and in contention to win the Ligue 1 player of the season award.

“It’s a great performance. It’s incredible,” said Galtier, who is expected to leave the side he took over when they were set to battle relegation in 2017.

“It was a long, tough day, we were under a lot of pressure, and beating PSG on the last day is outstanding,” said Galtier.

“The credit goes to the players. This team scored points against their title rivals. I can’t forget that they beat PSG away after losing against Nimes at home.”

“I love this squad. I love these players.”

What an incredible journey for Lille.

Finally, the monotony of the Ligue 1 is over for the betterment of the competition.

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