Nice will attempt to extend Lens’ winless run to six league matches when the two Ligue 1 Uber Eats high fliers meet at Allianz Riviera on Wednesday evening.
NICE – LENS (kick-off at 20:00 GMT)
Nice broke a three-match winless streak of their own when they scored a fine 2-1 success at Rennes in Round 18 and Les AIglons followed that up with a 1-0 win at Cholet in the Round of 64 of the Coupe de France as Andy Delort scored the winning goal on 63 minutes. It was a struggle for the club ranked fourth in the top division against the eighth club in the third tier.
Coach Christophe Galtier, who selected a strong team for the Coupe de France away date, acknowledged: “Yes we were slightly lucky. The fact that we were leading was a good thing. Cholet had two or three chances in the final quarter of an hour. Some of my players had to work very hard physically, which also struck me. We were a bit rushed, at times we didn’t have the right tempo and at other times we kept the ball for too long. We aren’t a top side, we are far from it. But we were a Ligue 1 side playing against a National side and we needed to win the match.”
Delort scored his first Coupe de France goal for Nice to go with five Ligue 1 strikes since his summer arrival from Montpellier. The forward commented: “It was really difficult. In the Coupe de France teams manage to lift their game and you end up with a match such as this one. That’s the beauty of this competition and the main thing is that we are through to the next round.”
Should they win and other results go their way then Nice could go into 2022 second in the Ligue 1 table to autumn champions Paris Saint-Germain. Lens’ run of a mere three points from their last five league outings has set them back but a first away win in six matches would see them finish 2021 level on points with Nice on 30.
Lens were also 1-0 winners against lower division opposition in the Coupe de France on Sunday, Ignatius Ganago’s first goal for two months enough for them to see off Poitiers of the fifth tier. Ganago scored in the 37th minute and Lens failed to add to their advantage despite Poitiers having César Neto sent off a minute later. Coach Franck Haise: “Some people might ask how it was possible we only won 1-0? They’re people who don’t know football or who have never played in the Coupe de France.”
Kevin Danso went off injured against Poitiers and the Austrian is doubtful for the Nice clash, a match fellow defender Facundo Medina will miss through suspension. Wing-back Jonathan Clauss has provided 12 league assists in 2021 to go with five Ligue 1 goals and, after playing the full 90 minutes against Poitiers, he said: “It was a difficult match. We came with one objective: qualifying. We leave having achieved that objective. We know what Coupe de France matches signify. We play football to win, each win is important and this win will of course count before going to Nice.”
Nice: (to follow)
Lens: (to follow)