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Lens-Nice preview: Hosts go after 11 in a row

Lens-Nice preview: Hosts go after 11 in a row

Publish on 01/31 at 14:54 - S. WILLIS


RC Lens are aiming to extend their remarkable winning run at home this season when they entertain a resurgent OGC Nice at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis on Wednesday evening.

RC Lens – OGC Nice Wednesday at 21:00 CET (2000 GMT)


Lens have an extraordinary record in front of their own fans this season, with ten wins out of a possible ten. Paris Saint-Germain are among the teams to have lost in Lens since the campaign began, gong down 3-1 there on New Year’s Day, and Franck Haise’s buoyant side know that another home victory will keep the pressure firmly on the capital club at the top of the table. PSG are only three points clear of a Lens side who can become the first team in any of Europe’s five biggest leagues to win their first 11 home matches of a season since Liverpool in 2019-20.

Les Sang et Or are currently on a 12-game unbeaten run in all competitions since suffering their only defeat of the campaign, at LOSC Lille in October. However, there are signs of a slowdown away from home, where the northerners have drawn three in a row in the league since the season restarted following the World Cup. On Saturday they needed a late equaliser from January signing Adrien Thomasson to snatch a 1-1 draw away to ESTAC Troyes, while they have also been held in Strasbourg and Nice in recent weeks.

“We were disappointed with the result but not the performance,” insisted striker Florian Sotoca. “We deserved to win based on the number of chances we created. It was a game we might have lost so it was also good to come away with a point. It shows our strength of character.”

Thomasson makes impact

Thomasson, who also scored in the recent Coupe de France win at Stade Brestois 29, may have a role to play again here as Lens are unable to use Alexis Claude-Maurice as part of his loan agreement from Nice. “He is a really nice guy and he has adapted quickly. He is an intelligent player, has experience of Ligue 1 and will continue to bring a lot to the team,” added Sotoca of the former RC Strasbourg Alsace midfielder.

Nice travel north boosted by Sunday’s 1-0 home win over Lille, in which Gaëtan Laborde scored the only goal of the game. In crisis a few weeks ago when Lucien Favre was sacked as coach, they have now picked up seven points from a possible nine in three games under interim boss Didier Digard. In fact they have been beaten just once in 11 Ligue 1 outings, but they remain in 10th place in the table, nine points adrift of the top five.

“What Lens are doing at home is incredible in terms of results and the excitement around them. But we are going there for ourselves and to keep doing what we have done in recent times,” said Digard, who admitted he still has no guarantees over his own future in the job.

Nice busy in transfer window

Nice’s build-up to the game has been somewhat overshadowed by the transfer window, with the Ineos-owned club having been trying to secure a big-money deal for the FC Lorient striker Terem Moffi. He eventually signed on Tuesday in a loan transfer that will turn into a permanent deal at the end of the campaign.

Meanwhile Andy Delort – who has scored seven goals this season but had fallen out with the club – has gone on loan to FC Nantes for the remainder of the season. Les Aiglons have also loaned former France midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin to Western Sydney Wanderers in Australia.

Nice also saw Youcef Atal go off injured against Lille not long after coming on as a substitute, while a knee injury to Nicolas Pépé means the club decided not to let fellow winger Billal Brahimi depart in January.

The match is the second meeting of the clubs in just over a month and sees Florent Ghisolfi go back to his old home. Ghisolfi enjoyed outstanding success as sporting director at Lens before moving to Nice earlier this season.

Possible teams

Lens: Samba; Gradit, Danso, Medina; Le Cardinal, Abdul Samed, Fofana (c), Machado; Sotoca, Openda, Thomasson

Nice: Schmeichel; Lotomba, Todibo, Dante (c), Bard; Rosario, Boudaoui, Thuram; Bouanani, Laborde, Diop

>> TRANSFERS: All the January moves

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