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Ligue 1 | Gameweek 24
Mar 3, 2024 at 7.45pm UK
Parc Olympique Lyonnais
Lens logo

0 - 3

FT(HT: 0-1)
Sotoca (43'), Wahi (53' pen.), Danso (87')
Gradit (29'), Danso (83')

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

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

A rejuvenated Lyon seek a seventh straight victory in all competitions when Lens arrive at the Groupama Stadium for a Ligue 1 date on Sunday evening.

Les Gones sunk Strasbourg on penalties to reach the semi-finals of the Coupe de France in midweek, while their visitors most recently lost 3-2 to Monaco in league action.

Match preview

Lyon's Jake O'Brien celebrates scoring their first goal with Nicolas Tagliafico on December 2, 2023© Reuters

While Paris Saint-Germain's Luis Enrique and Brest boss Eric Roy may be the leading contenders for the Ligue 1 Manager of the Year prize, a special mention goes to Lyon coach Pierre Sage, under whom the faltering titans have risen like a phoenix from the ashes.

The 44-year-old achieved his 11th win from 15 matches in charge during Tuesday's Coupe de France quarter-final with Strasbourg, as after 90 minutes of goalless action at the Groupama Stadium, Lyon triumphed 4-3 in the penalty shootout to advance to the final four of France's premier cup tournament.

Even the most ardent Lyon supporter surely could not have envisaged silverware for the 2023-24 season after such a disastrous start to proceedings, but Sage's side are now potentially just 180 minutes away from lifting the cup aloft and have very nearly consigned any Ligue 1 relegation fears to the past.

February brought four wins from four Ligue 1 matches for Lyon, who overcame Metz 2-1 in their last league fixture to cement a 10th-placed ranking in the table, 11 points clear of the drop zone and only eight behind upcoming foes Lens in the final European position.

Les Gones may still be a far cry from the title-winning Lyon sides of old, but their winter revival will go down as one of the success stories of the 2023-24 Ligue 1 season barring a springtime capitulation, and they welcome Lens to their headquarters having recorded five clean sheets in their last seven home encounters in all tournaments.

RC Lens coach Franck Haise reacts on October 24, 2023© Reuters

Apparently emerging as a wildcard candidate to succeed Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool head coach this summer, the sole focus for Lens boss Franck Haise right now is snapping a dismal four-game winless run for Les Sang et Or, who have gone down to Freiburg and Monaco in their past two matchdays.

After a 3-2 extra time defeat to the former in the second leg of their Europa League playoff tie - which ended their continental journey for 2023-24 - Lens lost by the same scoreline at home to Monaco three days later, where Takumi Minamino struck the decisive goal deep into second-half injury time.

The European hangover would have done Les Sang et Or no favours whatsoever last weekend, but Haise and co can at least reserve all their energy for Ligue 1 battles between now and the end of the season as they endeavour to fend off their fellow top-six chasers in the coming weeks.

Lens' current ranking would see Haise's outfit dip their toe into the Europa Conference League next season, but the 2022-23 Ligue 1 runners-up are only two points behind Lille in fifth place and four adrift of Nice, who occupy the fourth and final Champions League position at the time of writing.

Nice are the only team to have defeated Lens in the visitors' last nine Ligue 1 away games, during which time Haise's men have kept a remarkable seven clean sheets, but each of their last three trips to Lyon's Groupama base has ended in a loss.

Lyon Ligue 1 form:

Lyon form (all competitions):

Lens Ligue 1 form:

Lens form (all competitions):

Team News

Alexandre Lacazette celebrates scoring for Lyon on September 7, 2022© Reuters

Neither Alexandre Lacazette (knock) nor Nicolas Tagliafico (shoulder) were able to complete the full 90 minutes against Strasbourg in the cup, but there is hope that the duo will both shake off their concerns in time for Sunday; the latter was present in training earlier this week.

Lacazette had not rejoined his teammates for practice on Friday, but he trained individually and is expected to start at the tip of the attack at the Groupama Stadium, where Corentin Tolisso could also make his comeback from a hamstring injury.

The good news does not end there for Lyon, as Tolisso's fellow midfielder Johann Lepenant is on the cusp of returning from a knee sprain, meaning that Sage could have all of his troops available for the visit of Lens.

As far as Les Sang et Or are concerned, Haise was forced into a 24th-minute change in last weekend's loss to Monaco as Jhoanner Chavez sustained an apparent muscular injury, meaning that a recall for Przemyslaw Frankowski out wide should be in order.

Centre-back Jonathan Gradit was also taken off at the break, but Haise confirmed that the defender's withdrawal was tactical in nature, so the 31-year-old should reprise his role in a familiar rearguard with Kevin Danso and Facundo Medina before the latter serves a suspension next weekend.

A trio of wide men in Massadio Haidara (thigh), Deiver Machado (groin) and Jimmy Cabot (ACL) remain on the sidelines, although the latter is now in the final stages of his recovery from his devastating injury.

Lyon possible starting lineup:
Lopes; Maitland-Niles, O'Brien, Caleta-Car, Tagliafico; Mangala, Matic, Caqueret; Nuamah, Lacazette, Benrahma

Lens possible starting lineup:
Samba; Medina, Danso, Gradit; Aguilar, Abdul Samed, Mendy, Frankowski; Sotoca, Thomasson; Wahi

SM words green background

We say: Lyon 1-1 Lens

Bumps and bruises from the Coupe de France will come into play for Lyon on Sunday, where leading marksman Lacazette is unlikely to be 100%, but in their current form, Les Gones are not to be counted out against any foe.

A full week of recuperation was just what the doctor prescribed for a jaded Lens side, though, and with Haise's men stringing together an exceptional streak of defensive displays on the road, a low-scoring draw may be in the offing.

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

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