MX23RW : Saturday, July 31 00:12:53| >> :600:5978148:5978148:
Mar 3, 2021 at 6pm UK at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard
St EtienneSaint-Etienne
Moukoudi (40'), Bouanga (90+4' pen.)
Moukoudi (19'), Debuchy (26'), Gourna-Douath (66')
FT(HT: 1-2)
Sotoca (20' pen.), Kalimuendo (24'), Costa (90+2')
Banza (77'), Sotoca (85')

Preview: Saint-Etienne vs. Lens - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Ligue 1 clash between Saint-Etienne and Lens, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Saint-Etienne will be aiming to bounce back immediately from their dampening defeat to Lorient when they face off against another newly-promoted side in Lens on Wednesday evening.

The visitors, meanwhile, travel to the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard after rescuing a point in a 2-2 draw with Angers last time out.

Match preview

Saint-Etienne manager Claude Puel pictured in February 2021© Reuters

Saint-Etienne's promising turnaround in fortunes came crashing to a halt against an equally resurgent Lorient last time out, with the newly-promoted side indebted to Armand Lauriente's second-half double after Harold Moukoudi had initially drawn first blood for Claude Puel's men.

Lauriente struck a delightful free-kick before lashing home at the back post in the 83rd minute to condemn Saint-Etienne to their only league defeat of February, as well as ending their five-game unbeaten run in the top flight in an otherwise impressive month.

Les Verts had won three and drawn two in the league before their dismal defeat to Lorient, although they did also suffer an early Coupe de France exit to Sochaux three weeks ago, but February signalled a marked improvement in fortunes for Puel and co, who are still fighting to avoid being dragged into a relegation scrap.

Sixteenth-placed Saint-Etienne are now five points clear of 18th-placed Nimes and six above the automatic relegation places, so they are not out of the woods just yet, and Puel will no doubt want to address his side's lack of ruthlessness in front of goal sooner rather than later.

Indeed, Les Verts (27) possess the joint-third lowest goal tally in the division - level with Nantes and ahead of Nimes (26) and Dijon (18) - although they have only lost one of their last eight home matches before they meet a Lens side renowned for their superior away form.

Lens head coach Franck Haise pictured in October 2020© Reuters

Most supporters would have expected the likes of Rennes, Marseille and Bordeaux to be battling it out for the final European spot, but Lens and Metz are the ones taking advantage of their adversaries' slip-ups as the race to make the top five hots up.

Franck Haise's Lens have not been winning as many games as they would have liked recently, but their fighting spirit came to the fore against Angers, who quickly went 2-0 up through Lois Diony and Thomas Mangani before Jonathan Clauss and a last-minute equaliser from Arnaud Kalimuendo restored parity for Sang et Or.

Haise's side have now embarked on a seven-game unbeaten run across all competitions - winning three and drawing four of those matches - but Metz's back-to-back victories means that they occupy the fifth and final European spot over Lens, who sit behind their rivals on goal difference.

The newly-promoted side would fully merit a campaign of continental football should they manage to reclaim fifth spot come the end of the season, and they travel to Saint-Etienne boasting the sixth-best away record in the top flight - winning three and drawing three of their last six on unfamiliar territory.

Goals from Gael Kakuta and Florian Sotoca gave Lens a 2-0 win over Saint-Etienne earlier in the season, and the most recent game between the two sides on Les Verts' turf ended 3-3 in the 2014-15 season.

Saint-Etienne Ligue 1 form: WDWWDL
Saint-Etienne form (all competitions): DWLWDL

Lens Ligue 1 form: WDDDWD
Lens form (all competitions): DDWDWD

Team News

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

Wahbi Khazri was ruled out of the Lorient defeat due to a thigh injury and is set to miss out here as well, while Romain Hamouma is not ready to return from a problem in the same area either.

Panagiotis Retsos has recovered from a hamstring issue of his own for the hosts, but he was left out of the squad by Puel at the weekend.

Anthony Modeste has now gone five games without opening his account for Saint-Etienne, and Charles Abi is vying for a start in the 32-year-old's place.

Lens will have to make do without suspended midfielder Cheick Doucoure for this game, so 36-year-old Yannick Cahuzac is set to be recalled to the engine room.

There is also optimism over the fitness of injured duo Issiaga Sylla and Ignatius Ganago, although neither player is expected to be thrown back into the first XI just yet.

The visitors face off against Red Star in the Coupe de France three days after their trip to Saint-Etienne, so the likes of Kalimuendo and Ismael Boura could be rotated into the side.

Saint-Etienne possible starting lineup:
Moulin; Debuchy, Moukoudi, Cisse, Trauco; Neyou; Nordin, Camara, Gourna-Douath, Bouanga; Abi

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

SM words green background

We say: Saint-Etienne 1-2 Lens

It is extremely difficult to back against Lens given their current form on the road and in general, although Saint-Etienne have given a good account of themselves over the past few weeks as well. The loss of midfield lynchpin Doucoure is a blow for the visitors, but we still think that the European hopefuls will do enough to return to winning ways - although Saint-Etienne will not make life easy for them.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting over 1.5 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.Over 1.5:data

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CountryGold medalSilver MedalBronze MedalT
United StatesUnited States14171142
Olympics flagOlympic Athletes from Russia10141034
Great BritainGreat Britain79925
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Saturday's key events

· After silvers in both the men's and women's events, Team GB will be fancied to get on the podium again in the mixed relay (11.30pm-1am)

· Touted as Michael Phelps's successor, Caeleb Dressel already has two gold medals from these Games and he will be going for a third in the men's 50m butterfly final (2.30am)
· It is Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus III in the women's 800m freestyle final, with Ledecky entering as firm favourite (2.46am)
· Great Britain will be heavily fancied to add another gold medal to their swimming haul, having produced by far the fastest qualifying time for the mixed 4x100m medley relay final (3.43am)

· Dina Asher-Smith is one of three British women in the 100m semi-finals (3.01am-3.20am), and will hope to challenge for a medal in what is likely to be a star-studded final (1.50pm)
· The inaugural Olympic 4x400m mixed relay event concludes with Great Britain one of the eight finalists going for gold (1.35pm)

· Team GB's dreams of an unlikely gold are still alive in the women's event as they face France in their semi-final (3.30am). The winners will face either New Zealand or Fiji in the gold medal match later in the day (10am)

· Gold medals are up for grabs in the windsurfer - RS:X finals. Emma Wilson participates for Team GB in the women's final (6.33am), while Tom Squires is in action in the men's (7.33am)

· Following his shock semi-final defeat, ending his hopes of a Golden Slam in 2021, Novak Djokovic battles for bronze against Pablo Carreno Busta (7am)
· The women's singles event reaches its conclusion with the gold medal match between Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova

> Today's schedule in full
Todays Game Header Right
Pre-Season Friendlies
Olympic Games Men's Football
Scottish Premiership
Portuguese Super Cup
Taca da Liga
Scottish Championship
Scottish League One
Scottish League Two
Belgian Pro League
Swiss Super League
Russian Premier League
Ukrainian Premier League
Swedish Allsvenskan
Danish Superliga
Finnish Veikkausliiga
League of Ireland Premier
Belarusian Premier League
Ligue 2
Major League Soccer
Copa Diego Maradona
Uruguayan Primera Division
Liga MX
Chinese Super League
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