MX23RW : Tuesday, September 28 07:00:46| >> :600:249543:249543:
May 23, 2021 at 8pm UK at Stade Felix Bollaert

Medina (74'), Clauss (82'), Cahuzac (82')

Volland (82'), Maripan (85')

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

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

Two sides battling to secure their places in their desired European competitions will lock horns on the final matchday in Ligue 1 as Lens play host to Monaco at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis.

Sang et Or occupy sixth spot in the table and have one final chance to push for a Europa League berth, while Monaco's third-placed finish would guarantee them Champions League football next season.

Match preview

Lens head coach Franck Haise pictured in October 2020© Reuters

Surely a leading candidate for manager of the season, Franck Haise has overseen an exceptional campaign with Lens following their promotion back to the top flight last summer, but it is threatening to end in tears following three consecutive defeats.

After stringing together a 13-game unbeaten run between January and April, Haise's men saw their resolve broken by Paris Saint-Germain at the beginning of May, and that 2-1 defeat preceded back-to-back 3-0 defeats to league leaders Lille and relegation battlers Bordeaux.

Hwang Ui-jo, Youssouf Sabaly and Mehdi Zerkane all netted for Bordeaux to deal yet another blow to Lens' European hopes last weekend, and while a spot in the Europa League may be out of the question as fifth-placed Marseille sit three points clear, sixth would be enough for a place in the Europa Conference League.

Rennes are breathing down their necks, but they have endured their own dismal spell of form over the past few gameweeks before they play host to relegated Nimes on the final day, so Lens may yet be consigned to a season without continental competition after so much promise throughout the 2020-21 campaign.

However, Haise's men had not suffered defeat in seven games on home soil before Lille got the better of them - a run which also includes a 1-1 draw with top-four battlers Lyon - but they have failed to keep a clean sheet in any of their last 13 league matches and are gearing up to meet two of the most potent attackers that French football has to offer.

Monaco manager Niko Kovac pictured in February 2021© Reuters

The prospect of Monaco springing a surprise against serial Coupe de France winners PSG - who were without Neymar, Marco Verratti and Presnel Kimpembe - was very much alive, but Niko Kovac's side could not produce the goods when it mattered most on the big stage.

Mauro Icardi drew first blood before half time, and former Monegasques starlet Kylian Mbappe settled the tie against his old club in the 81st minute to surely condemn Monaco to another trophyless season after their Ligue 1 title hopes were also all but extinguished.

The fiery 3-2 defeat to Lyon on home turf has ultimately proved to be a season-defining moment for Monaco, who are still capable of winning the crown should a miracle occur and Lille and Paris Saint-Germain both suffer defeat on the final day, but maintaining their grip on third spot is the ultimate goal for Kovac on Sunday.

Fourth-placed Lyon are only one point behind and have not given up on their Champions League dream just yet, but Sunday's meeting with Lens ought to provide Wissam Ben Yedder and Kevin Volland - with 36 league goals between them - the opportunity to fire Monaco back to the pinnacle of European football for next season.

Kovac's side have taken 12 points from the last 12 on offer away from home - keeping a clean sheet on each occasion - although they were stunned by Lens in a 3-0 defeat to their fellow European hopefuls earlier this season.

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

Monaco Ligue 1 form:
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W

Monaco form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L

Team News

Monaco's Eliot Matazo celebrates scoring their first goal on May 9, 2021© Reuters

Lens left-back Issiaga Sylla is back from a three-game ban and ready to challenge Ismael Boura for a spot in the first XI, but Massadio Haidara is touch and go as he bids to battle back from a calf problem.

The hosts' ranks are also boosted by the inclusions of Clement Michelin and Florian Sotoca as they return from brief stints on the naughty step, with Simon Banza likely to make way for the latter.

Haise ought to be reluctant to make too many alterations despite the manner of their defeat to Bordeaux, but Yannick Cahuzac could come in to provide some defensive stability in the middle of the park.

Monaco have welcomed numerous individuals back from suspension and coronavirus-related absences in recent weeks, and Kovac is blessed with a fully-fit contingent of players from which to select from for the final day of the season.

Radoslaw Majecki has impressed in the Coupe de France this term but will make way for the returning number one Benjamin Lecomte, while Axel Disasi's spot in defence could come under threat from Benoit Badiashile.

Gelson Martins and Krepin Diatta could also come into Kovac's thinking for a start on the right-hand side, with the former having a strong chance of replacing Ruben Aguilar at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis.

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

Monaco possible starting lineup:
Lecomte; Sidibe, Maripan, Badiashile, Henrique; Martins, Fofana, Tchouameni, Golovin; Ben Yedder, Volland

SM words green background

We say: Lens 1-3 Monaco

Desperate to right the wrongs of midweek, Monaco's normally prolific attackers will smell blood against a Lens side who have shown no signs of finding a defensive resolve in recent weeks.

Lens' European hopes remain in their own hands, but we are struggling to see the out-of-form hosts doing the double over Monaco, who ought to be dining at European's top table even if it is too little too late for their title chances.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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