On May 3, 2015, Lille sank a Racing Club de Lens already condemned to the elevator in its lair of Pierre Mauroy (3-1).
Back in the top flight, the Sang et Ors were forced to return to Ligue 2 after a season looking like a long Stations of the Cross, far from its bases (Bollaert under construction for Euro 2016, Lens had to relocate to Amiens).
Five and a half years later, Racing is once again finding Ligue 1 and its best enemy, but with completely different intentions.
Exciting and above all attractive, the band in Gaël Kakuta is fourth in Ligue 1, one point behind Lille, so much so that this meeting at the top has a double stake: territorial but also hexagonal.
First place in the sights
Scheduled from the 7th day, this derby from the North had something to salivate fans of derbies of all kinds.
With the stake, and not least, the head of Ligue 1, this return of the North derby has everything of the big poster of Sunday evening.
“Everyone wants to play this kind of game.
(…) For us, there is already the sporting issue against an opponent just behind us in the standings.
And then there is everything that needs to be added in a derby, ”warned Christophe Galtier at a press conference on Friday.
The Lille coach, aware of his opponent's strengths, relied on a deserved ranking for the Sang et Or and their X factor: “The RC Lens ranking speaks for itself.
It is a generous team, which advances on the adversary.
(…) They also have a player like Gaël Kakuta who has made a very good start to the season.
It's a team that isn't there by chance, you have to be wary of it. ”
A real lens player at the start of the season, Kakuta (4 goals), finally back in his training club, will take part in his very first Northern derby and will be among the players to watch this Sunday.
Lille in the shoes of the favorite
Distrustful, the Lille approach this meeting with a humility that should not betray their ambitions, namely to find the Champions League at the end of the season.
At the time of tackling a first big meeting in Pierre-Mauroy, where LOSC is undefeated this season (a draw against Rennes at the opening then two victories against Metz and Nantes), the partners of a still uncertain José Fonte (pending a negative Covid-19 test after being positive with Portugal) will also want to continue their invincibility against the local rival at home, where they have not lost since 2003 (0-2, goals by Rigobert Song and Tony Vairelles).
The presence or not of the Portuguese captain will be an important factor as the strength of LOSC is no longer to be proven (they have never been behind this season).
A solidity and a workforce greater than an RC Lens with a budget three times lower, as Franck Haise reminded us at a press conference: “It's no surprise that Lille is so high in the ranking.
They have a workforce built for Europe and are ahead of us, ”swears the Lensois coach.
In any case, in view of the forces present, Lille appears superior to a Lens particularly decimated by the absences of the club's co-top scorer Ignatius Ganago (4 goals), the Argentine defender Facundo Medina or even the Ivorian midfielder Seko Fofana , flagship recruit of the transfer window.
But far from a duel between David and Goliath, this derby between two playing teams should be much more balanced than it was in 2015.
A derby behind closed doors ... but already hot
Due to the implementation of the curfew in the Lille metropolis, the meeting was automatically subject to the rule of camera.
A confidentiality which the two camps would have gone well on the occasion of a meeting awaited by an entire region.
“A derby is about atmospheres.
And there there won't be.
Automatically, that changes a lot of things, saddened Christophe Galtier.
Our supporters exist through these matches, it is there that they are highlighted, that there are the greatest events. ”
For so many years already ... ❤️ # NousSommesLesDogues # LOSCRCL # derbydunordpic.twitter.com / JFoFzKSTMn
- LOSC (@losclive) October 17, 2020
So, failing to furnish the Pierre-Mauroy stadium, the supporters of both camps launched the derby in their own way.
One week before the shock, it was Lensois who opened hostilities by entering the Lille training center to hoist a Blood and Gold flag offensive to the rival, as reported by
La Voix du Nord
Also at the Luchin estate, the Mastiff supporters gathered in the stands to encourage their proteges during the last session, on the eve of the meeting, singing and cracking smoke bombs.
"Obviously, without the public, the flavor will not be the same ... But there will be the derby," warns Franck Haise.
And this is what is essential for the two teams and a whole region which is about to get excited again for a duel which will deliver the verdict of its 111th iteration this Sunday.
League 1 standings