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Preview: Lens vs. Lille - prediction, team news, lineups
04/01/2022 14:27:13

Lille travel to the Stade Bollaert-Delelis to face Lens on Saturday afternoon in the sixth round of games of this developing Ligue 1 season.

The visitors may be the reigning champions, but it is the home side who are having the better campaign so far this season.

We say: Lens 2-2 Lille

Lens have already beaten one of last season's title contenders, when they saw off Monaco 2-0 away from home. Lille will be determined to get their season going, however, and - considering the two teams' defensive deficiencies - we are backing a high-scoring draw here.

Match preview

The Lens revival under Franck Haise continues, after a strong start to the season leaves the northern team sitting fifth in the table, just two points behind second-placed Angers.

Now on an unbeaten run of eight consecutive games, stretching back to early July, Lens look confident at the moment and secured a dramatic win away at Bordeaux on Sunday.

Two first-half goals from Gael Kakuta and Facundo Medina put les Sang et Or in control, but Bordeaux got one back on the hour mark and Jean Onana looked to have earned the hosts a point with an 88th-minute equaliser, only for Florian Sotoca, who had hit the crossbar earlier in the game, to strike six minutes into added time from the penalty spot.

Defensively, Haise's men have not been the strongest, only keeping one clean sheet all season, but they have proven their ability to fight for results, having come from behind in all three of their draws so far this campaign.

After finishing seventh last season on their return to Ligue 1, Lens are beginning to believe that they can go one step further this time around and challenge for the European spots.

If Lens are on the way up, Lille appear to be going in the opposite direction.

After an underwhelming transfer window this summer and the loss of their title-winning manager Christophe Galtier to Nice, Lille have instantly transformed from being a team with the league's best defence to the second-worst, having conceded fewer goals than only Bordeaux, who are currently propping up the league.

They have let in 11 goals in their first five games - in comparison, that is the number they conceded during the final 21 games of the 2020-21 campaign.

Two of those 11 goals came last weekend, when Terem Moffi's dramatic late winner gave Lorient a superb 2-1 win and sent last year's champions down to 12th in the table.

Les Dogues did, at least, keep a clean sheet during the week in a 0-0 stalemate against 10-man Wolfsburg in the Champions League group stage, but they will need to do far more if they are to stand any chance of defending their title.

Team News

Teenage centre-back Christopher Wooh was fit to return to the bench for the previous two games but is yet to break back into the Lens starting XI as yet.

The only remaining injury concern for Haise is Massadio Haidara, who is still out with a calf injury, and Cheick Oumar Doucoure will also be returning from a two-match ban.

Gourvennec has a few more injuries to deal with - forwards Timothy Weah and Jonathan Bamba are sidelined with thigh problems, whilst Renato Sanches will be out for a few more weeks with a knee issue.

Right-back Zeki Celik and attacker Jonathan David returned for the midweek Champions League game, though, and Domagoj Bradaric may also be fit to return to the bench on Saturday.

Lens possible starting lineup:

Leca; Gradit, Danso, Medina; Clauss, Fofana, Cahuzac, Frankowski; Kakuta, Sotoca, Ganago

Lille possible starting lineup:

Grbic; Celik, Fonte, Botman, Reinildo; Ikone, Andre, Xeka, Yazici; David, Yilmaz

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