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Ligue 1 | Gameweek 23
Feb 25, 2024 at 12pm UK
Stade Bollaert-Delelis

2 - 3

Wahi (31'), Said (77')
Haise (26'), Medina (45+3'), Thomasson (53'), Mendy (64'), Samba (82'), Wahi (90+5')
FT(HT: 1-2)
Balogun (19'), Samba (30' og.), Minamino (90+2')
Ouattara (25'), Majecki (90+6'), Diop (90+5'), Majecki (90+6')

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.

Lens and Monaco will meet at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis on Sunday in a game of major importance in the fight for European spots at the top end of the Ligue 1 table.

The two sides are currently separated by just two points, with the visitors having dropped to fifth place and the hosts hot on their heels just outside the top five.

Match preview

Lens coach Franck Haise on February 15, 2024© Reuters

Following the culmination of their continental campaign in midweek, Lens return to action on Sunday aiming to continue an impressive run in Ligue 1 and crack the top five in their bid to again play on the European stage next season.

Les Sang et Or currently sit sixth in France's top flight with 36 points from their opening 22 matches, despite their top-five hopes taking a major dent from consecutive 2-0 defeats at the hands of Nice and Paris Saint-Germain either side of the turn of the year, as they have since bounced back in eye-catching fashion.

Franck Haise's side now find themselves unbeaten in four league games, having firstly rebounded from the defeats with a 2-0 victory away at Toulouse, before making it three wins on the bounce by beating Nantes and Strasbourg 1-0 and 3-1 respectively to move back within touching distance of the continental spots.

In their most recent Ligue 1 outing last weekend, Les Sang et Or faced a tough trip to Reims, and while they were unable to extend the winning run, they did continue an unbeaten streak with a creditable 1-1 draw thanks to Wesley Said's leveller, before travelling to take on German outfit Freiburg in the second leg of their Europa League playoff tie on Thursday and bowing out owing to a 3-2 defeat after extra time, having initially led 2-0 through David Costa and Elye Wahi.

Now with their focus fully back on their league pursuits, having reduced the gap to the fifth-placed visitors to just two points, Lens will bid to make a swift return to winning ways on Sunday to leapfrog their opponents and retake a European spot ahead of the run-in.

Monaco coach Adi Hutter reacts as Paris St Germain coach Luis Enrique looks on on November 24, 2023© Reuters

They meet a Monaco side who will bid to correct their recent difficult form and extend that gap between the teams in their own bid for continental qualification this season.

Seeking to return to Champions League contention with a top-four finish after ending up sixth last time around, Les Rouge et Blanc enjoyed an impressive first half to the campaign, picking up 33 points from their opening 17 matches to establish themselves in the leading pack with 10 wins and just four defeats on the board at the turn of the year.

They have been unable to extend that run since the beginning of January, though, and now find themselves in the midst of a dip in their form, having only managed one more win and five points from their last five league outings, firstly falling to a 3-1 defeat at home to Reims before playing out draws with Marseille and Le Havre.

A three-point haul did follow in a particularly impressive result, as Adi Hutter's side triumphed in a 3-2 win away at high-flying Nice thanks to Denis Zakaria's brace and Aleksandr Golovin's decisive goal 13 minutes from time, before again seeing their momentum halted last weekend, hosting Toulouse and coming away empty-handed from a 2-1 loss after drawing level through Maghnes Akliouche early in the second half.

Having now dropped behind Brest and Lille into fifth spot as a result of their struggles, with just a two-point lead over the chasing pack fronted by their hosts, Monaco will be desperate to bounce back on Sunday and pick up a crucial win to strengthen their standing at the top end of the division ahead of the final 11 matches.

Lens Ligue 1 form:

Lens form (all competitions):

Monaco Ligue 1 form:

Monaco form (all competitions):

Team News

Lens' Massadio Haidara celebrates scoring a disallowed goal with teammates on February 15, 2024© Reuters

Lens will remain without defender Deiver Machado heading into Sunday's contest, but Kevin Danso will return to contention after serving a suspension against Freiburg last time out, and he should rejoin Facundo Medina and Abdukodir Khusanov in a back three.

There is competition for places in midfield, with Andy Diouf and Nampalys Mendy fighting to come in from the outset, but Neil El Aynaoui and Salis Abdul Samed should again get the nod to start, while David Costa will continue to take up a more advanced role in support of a front two after his goal against Freiburg on Thursday.

Florian Sotoca and Elye Wahi led the line in that game, with the latter also getting on the scoresheet, but Wesley Said will fight to come back in from the outset having netted five goals in 16 Ligue 1 appearances so far this campaign.

Monaco continue to deal with several injury issues, as defenders Caio Henrique and Vanderson remain confined to the treatment room alongside attackers Krepin Diatta and Breel Embolo.

They will be boosted by the return of captain Wissam Ben Yedder in attack, though, after he missed the Toulouse contest through suspension, and he will likely displace Folarin Balogun and lead the line from the start having netted 15 goals in all competitions so far this term including 11 in 20 Ligue 1 games.

Aleksandr Golovin will also return from a suspension and could rejoin Ben Yedder and Takumi Minamino in a front three, while Youssouf Fofana, Denis Zakaria and Mohamed Camara are bound to line up in an unchanged midfield trio.

Lens possible starting lineup:
Samba; Khusanov, Danso, Medina; Frankowski, Abdul Samed, El Aynaoui, Chavez; Costa; Wahi, Said

Monaco possible starting lineup:
Kohn; Kehrer, Maripan, Salisu, Jakobs; Fofana, Zakaria, Camara; Minamino, Ben Yedder, Golovin

SM words green background

We say: Lens 1-1 Monaco

Given the high stakes at the top end of the Ligue 1 table, we certainly anticipate a tight encounter on Sunday with little to split the two sides.

It is the hosts who are in better form in France's top flight, but with more fatigue from their extra midweek game and the visitors being boosted by two key men returning, we see a share of the points as the most likely outcome.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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Monaco's Takumi Minamino scores their first goal on November 24, 2023
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