MX23RW : Friday, June 18 11:00:53| >> :600:2120577:2120577:
May 7, 2021 at 8pm UK at Stade Felix Bollaert

Michelin (29'), Fortes (67')
Michelin (35')
FT(HT: 0-2)
Yilmaz (4' pen., 40'), David (60')
Araujo (39'), Fonte (65')

Preview: Lens vs. Lille - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday's Ligue 1 clash between Lens and Lille, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

With only three more wins needed to wrestle the Ligue 1 title off of Paris Saint-Germain's hands, Lille travel to the Stade Bollaert-Delelis to take on surprise package Lens on Friday evening.

The hosts fell to a 2-1 defeat to PSG last time out, whereas Lille's title bid gathered momentum with a 2-0 triumph over 10-man Nice.

Match preview

Lens head coach Franck Haise pictured in October 2020© Reuters

Lens manager Franck Haise was unable to make lightning strike twice against PSG, who welcomed Sang et Or to the Parc des Princes aiming to avenge their 1-0 defeat to the newly-promoted side in the earliest weeks of the campaign.

Sandwiched in between two Champions League battles with Manchester City, PSG quickly assumed control of the tie as Neymar and Marquinhos put them two goals to the good, with Ignatius Ganago's strike just after the hour mark unable to inspire a Lens comeback against the champions.

Defeat to Les Parisiens marked the end of Lens' remarkable 13-game unbeaten run in Ligue 1 - a hot streak which has propelled them into the fifth and final European spot in the table - but Marseille are only behind on head-to-head points while Rennes are firmly in the chase as well.

With Bordeaux and Monaco still to come for Sang et Or, Haise would surely be a candidate for manager of the year if he can secure a spot in continental competition for newly-promoted Lens, who welcome Lille to a ground where they have enjoyed back-to-back wins over Lorient and Nimes in recent weeks.

This week's hosts have strung together a seven-game unbeaten streak on home soil - scoring at least two goals on five occasions during that run - and Lens have both scored and conceded in their last 11 games in Ligue 1, but Lille and their dogged defence will be determined to end that record as they attempt to clear another hurdle in the race for glory.

Lille coach Christophe Galtier in the Europa League on February 18, 2021© Reuters

One week on from his man-of-the-match display against Lyon, veteran Lille striker Burak Yilmaz took no time at all to break the deadlock against an improving Nice, with the 35-year-old netting his 13th of the season with 13 minutes on the clock to put Les Dogues in the ascendancy.

Any hopes of a Nice comeback were extinguished when Jordan Lotomba received his marching orders for two bookable offences, and another one of Lille's Turkish delights in Zeki Celik wrapped up a 2-0 win with a stunning effort on the 55-minute mark.

With 13 points taken from the last 15 on offer, Lille have found an imperious nature at just the right time, and Christophe Galtier's men are still sitting pretty at the top of the rankings with just three games left to go, with PSG the only other realistic challengers for the crown now.

After an enthralling four-way race for supremacy for the majority of the campaign, Lyon's fiery 3-2 victory over Monaco all but dashed Les Monegasques' title chances, and a perfect tally of nine points from their remaining three games would hand Lille the long-awaited Ligue 1 crown they so crave.

Les Dogues travel to Lens on a 12-game unbeaten league run away from home - with 10 of those games ending in victory, including each of their last three - and Galtier's side stormed to a 4-0 win over Sang et Or back in October.

Lens Ligue 1 form:
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L

Lille Ligue 1 form:
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W

Team News

Lens celebrate scoring against Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 on September 10, 2020© Reuters

Lens left-back Issiaga Sylla will serve the second of a three-game suspension following his sending off against Nimes, but Loic Bade returns from a ban of his own to bolster the rearguard, while Massadio Haidara is also back from a suspension but has succumbed to a calf problem.

Haidara and Bade's returns could spell trouble for Clement Michelin and Steven Fortes, and 11-goal playmaker Gael Kakuta is now back in the fold after recovering from coronavirus.

The former Chelsea man was given a run-out as a substitute against PSG but should return to the first XI here, meaning that Yannick Cahuzac could make way, while first-choice goalkeeper Jean-Louis Leca is fit again after missing last weekend's defeat.

Lille will have to cope without ever-present midfield lynchpin Benjamin Andre through suspension, so Galtier will hope to have Renato Sanches back in the fold after a muscular problem forced him to miss the win over Nice.

Xeka could deputise alongside Boubakary Soumare if Sanches is not passed fit, but Galtier otherwise has no selection concerns for gameweek 36.

Jonathan Ikone will hope to win his spot back on the right-hand side from Luiz Araujo, but other than that it should be as you were for the in-form league leaders.

Lens possible starting lineup:
Leca; Medina, Bade, Gradit; Clauss, Doucoure, Fofana, Boura; Kakuta; Sotoca, Ganago

Lille possible starting lineup:
Maignan; Celik, Fonte, Botman, Reinildo; Ikone, Soumare, Xeka, Bamba; David, Yilmaz

SM words green background

We say: Lens 1-2 Lille

Lens have come a long way since being taught a footballing lesson by Lille earlier in the campaign, and Haise's men are potentially only three games away from a spot in Europe.

Sang et Or have produced the goods at home recently, but Lille are crushing almost everything in their wake and are showing no signs of letting up away from their headquarters, so we expect Les Dogues to take another step towards the title with a hard-fought triumph.

Top tip

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Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare pictured in October 2020
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