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A look back at 2018 (Part 2)

Review

January 1, 2019

A look back at 2018 (Part 2)

2019 is now upon us, with its own set of mysteries, expectations and hopes. A new chapter will open for OGC Nice. But before beginning to pick up the pen to write about it, it’s time to look back at the story of 2018. Both on and off of the pitch. Here is part two...

11 June: Patrick Vieira arrives

The transition, the day after. On Monday 11 June, Patrick Vieira took over from Lucien Favre and became the Aiglons’ new coach. An incredible player and a young coach, the former France captain, who began his coaching career on the benches of the Manchester City team, arrived on the Côte d’Azur from the MLS and New York City FC.

He was accompanied by Christian Lattenzio, Kristian Wilson and Matt Cook, who, alongside Fred Gioria and Lionel Letizi make up “his senior backroom staff“. A new method is put in place, but the identity of the style of play remains the same.  

2 July: Return to training 

A change of faces for the new season. On  Monday 2 July, an enlarged yet young squad arrived at the training ground at 7.30am. The meeting point is set for the third floor, in the first team’s canteen, which would become a key venue for the squad. 

A living room to be shared by all. Everybody was there to have breakfast together, except for Mario Balotelli. Coach Vieira spoke to his squad and set the rules. The troops were soon out on the hybrid pitches. The adventure begins. 

17 July: Youcef Atal becomes a Niçois

He arrived on the balls of his feet. He was quickly presented to the Niçois, and then to the people of France, before the rest of Europe. He arrived in Nice with two Ts in his name, left one behind him and hit the ground running. On 17 July, Youcef Atal was officially a Niçois.

Quick, ferocious, tenacious, Atal made a name for himself with the carefreeness of a 22 year old. In 14 appearances (11 starts) during the first half of the season, the Algerian international - who was injured in August - was chosen by the supporters as Aiglon of the Match on six occasions in the first half of the campaign. And has put everybody in his pocket... 

30 August: Mario returns to the starting 11

After missing the start of pre-season, on 17 July, two weeks after his teammates, Mario Balotelli returned to training. The “soap of the summer” was yet to finish, but the colossus, who was struggling physically, began an individual programme, before joining up with the squad on 30 July. The league began without him (he was suspended for the first three matches), but his departure that was discussed in the press, would never materialise.

On 20 August, the soap comes to an end: Super Mario remained in Nice for a third consecutive season. He returned to the starting eleven 10 days later, against Lyon, for the Gym’s first win of the season (1-0).

29 September: The Allianz celebrates its fifth birthday  

On Saturday 29 September, the Allianz Riviera blew out its fifth candle. During this start to life, OGC Nice has brought it artists, battles, some worrying moments, immense emotions, matches for Europe, matches in the Europa League, a play-off for the Champions League, and the summits of L1…

For its fifth birthday, the Gym proposed a gala match against Paris. The Allianz was bursting at the seams (33,138 spectators), to see its side face the giant from the capital. The Red and Blacks would be unable to put the cherry on the cake and fell to defeat at the hands of the stronger side (0-3). 

28 October: The start of a run

The trip could have been difficult. But as always. It acted as a turning point. The start of something. At Bordeaux, the Gym were put through the mill, before ending with a smile on their faces. They dominated their opponent at the start of the game for over an hour. The control allowed them to take the lead, thanks to a goal from Wylan Cyprien in the 54’, but it was the team’s collective strength that allowed them to pick up the three points.  

Shaken in the final half an hour, the Aiglons closed the gaps and held on. This solidarity allowed them to kick off an impressive run (4 wins and 3 draws), which came to an end in the final match of the first half of the season at Strasbourg (0-2). They will begin 2019 in 10th place in the league, just a few points behind their competitors above them.