MX23RW : Tuesday, July 27 03:41:53| >> :600:5645087:5645087:
Mar 14, 2021 at 2pm UK at Stade du Moustoir
Wissa (66')
Boisgard (3'), Abergel (73')
FT(HT: 0-0)
Maolida (58')
Kamara (42'), Schneiderlin (73')

Preview: Lorient vs. Nice - prediction, team news, lineups

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

Lorient will be desperate to bounce back from a disheartening Coupe de France exit when they welcome Nice to the Stade du Moustoir for Sunday's Ligue 1 showdown.

Nice also bowed out of France's premier cup competition last weekend as they were put to the sword by title chasers Monaco in a 2-0 defeat.

Match preview

Lorient manager Christophe Pelissier pictured in January 2021© Reuters

Lorient's incredible revival since a major coronavirus outbreak has seen them clamber out of the relegation zone in recent weeks, but Christophe Pelissier and co suffered one of their most humiliating results of the season in the Coupe de France last Saturday.

An experienced Merlus XI - albeit with a heavily-altered defence - travelled to fourth-tier outfit Le Puy Foot expecting a straightforward passage into the next round, but it was the amateur side who progressed courtesy of Lenny Joseph's 61st minute winner in a 1-0 triumph, with that result stretching Lorient's winless run away from home to 11 matches since a 3-1 win at Reims on October 17.

After winning four and drawing two in all competitions between January 27 and February 14, Lorient have only managed to prevail in one of their last six matches - losing three of them - but their unforeseen turnaround was not going to last forever as they bid to avoid an immediate return to the second division.

Pelissier's side are two points clear of the drop zone with 10 games left to play, and they will certainly take a glance over their shoulder given Nimes' and Nantes' recent upturn in fortunes, but the hosts ought to be encouraged by their stellar home form before they welcome Nice to the Stade du Moustoir.

Indeed, Les Merlus have won five of their last six on familiar territory across all competitions and have accumulated 19 of their 27 points for the season on home soil - only Brest have a higher percentage of points accrued at home - but the 52 goals they have shipped is the second-worst in the league and Nice have a particular protege aiming to etch his name into the history books.

Nice manager Adrian Ursea pictured in February 2021© Reuters

Amine Gouiri was unable to prevent Nice from exiting the Coupe de France at the same stage as Lorient did last time out, but the 21-year-old continues to go from strength to strength for Adrien Ursea's side after taking just four minutes to find the back of the net in a 2-1 win over Nimes on March 3.

Now boasting 11 goals and five assists for the season, Gouiri has made the net ripple in his last four Ligue 1 outings, and should he increase his tally for the season against Lorient, he would become the first player since Nenad Bjekovic in 1977 to score in five consecutive top-flight appearances for Les Aiglons - an added incentive for the starlet to lace up his best shooting boots.

Kevin Volland and Ruben Aguilar both struck for Monaco as they eased into the next round of the Coupe de France at Nice's expense, but Ursea's men can now focus all their efforts on the remainder of the Ligue 1 campaign as they aim to build on back-to-back victories against Rennes and Nimes in the top flight.

The 11th-placed Aiglons have not won three on the bounce in Ligue 1 since 2018, but their record against newly-promoted sides speaks for itself as they have won five and drawn four of their last nine matches against such teams, and another confidence-boosting win could be on the cards if Gouiri brings his A game to the Stade du Moustoir.

Furthermore, Lorient have never managed to prevail against Nice in their seven top-flight meetings, although Les Merlus did manage to hold Ursea's side to a 2-2 draw at the Allianz Riviera just before Christmas.

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

Lorient form (all competitions):
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • L

Nice Ligue 1 form:
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W

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

Team News

Nice teammates Walter Benitez and Kasper Dolberg pictured in February 2020© Reuters

Lorient goalkeeper Paul Nardi has been banned for three matches after lashing out at referee Frank Schneider in the Coupe de France defeat, so Matthieu Dreyer will be given a run-out in between the sticks.

Thomas Monconduit would be available for this one after serving a suspension of his own, but the midfielder is nursing a knee problem, while Fabien Lemoine will also miss out due to an accumulation of bookings.

Jeremy Morel and Jonathan Delaplace are not expected back just yet, but the quartet of Julien Laporte, Vincent Le Goff, Laurent Abergel and Terem Moffi should all return after being benched in the cup.

Nice manager Ursea opted for a strong lineup against Monaco - which did not pay dividends - and it would be a surprise to see the visiting coach make many alterations for this showdown.

However, he will be forced into one alteration at the back as Jean-Clair Todibo is suspended, which means that Robson Bambu or Andy Pelmard could deputise in defence. Alternatively, Flavius Daniliuc could move into a central role - allowing Jordan Lotomba to return at right-back.

Hicham Boudaoui has been ruled out until May with a meniscus injury - joining Dante and Jeff Reine-Adelaide on the long-term injury list - but having managed to return to full fitness, Kasper Dolberg will be pushing for a start this weekend.

Lorient possible starting lineup:
Dreyer; Mendes, Laporte, Gravillon, Chalobah, Le Goff; Lauriente, Abergel, Le Fee, Wissa; Moffi

Nice possible starting lineup:
Benitez; Lotomba, Saliba, Daniliuc, Kamara; Schneiderlin; Maolida, Lees-Melou, Claude-Maurice, Gouiri; Dolberg

SM words green background

We say: Lorient 1-2 Nice

Todibo and William Saliba have formed an effective partnership since their January loan arrivals, so the loss of the former is a big blow for the visitors. Lorient know how to produce the goods on home soil, but with Nice possessing an inspired Gouiri and a motivated Dolberg desperate to prove his worth late on in the campaign, we can envisage Les Aiglons marching to a third 2-1 win on the bounce this weekend.

Top tip

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Nice defender William Saliba pictured on January 17, 2021
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