Dijon and Lens in knife-edge play-off
Dijon FCO and RC Lens head into Sunday's promotion/relegation play-off second leg with a Ligue 1 Conforama place still in the balance.
Dijon FCO - RC Lens
The pair played out a 1-1 draw at the Stade Félix Bollaert on Thursday to give Dijon a slight advantage heading into the game at the Stade Gaston Gérard.
Antoine Kombouaré will be confident his side can get the result required to complete a spectacular recovery that saw them move out of the automatic relegation spots on the final day of the season as Djion have won their last three home matches.
But the ex-Paris Saint-Germain boss is aware his team, who will be backed by a 15,000-strong capacity crowd, must improve on their first-leg display.
"We weren't there in the challenges, not focussd enough. We know that we can cause them problems by playing. To finish the job we have to play better than in the first leg. We need to be solid defensively, and be more solid defensively," said Kombouaré, who will be without first-leg goalscorer Changhoon Kwon, top scorer Julio Tavares, and defensive duo Valentin Rosier and Nayef Aguerd.
"They also have the impression they've done something incredible, because they have come out of nowhere. This team won't give us anything."
Montanier: 'Expectation makes us stronger'
Lens' first-choice goalkeeper Jean-Louis Leca serves the second of a three-game ban for his red card in the pre-play-off meeting with Troyes, who — along with Paris FC — were seen off after 120 minutes of nail-biting and muscle-sapping football.
The northerners' low-key second-half display in the first leg suggested they were running out of steam, but coach Philippe Montanier is upbeat after seeing his side — fifth-placed finishers in Domino's Ligue 2 — upset the odds to get this far.
"It's not the first time we've been confronted with pessimism. We've created so much expectation. That makes us stronger," said Montanier, whose team will have some 600 fans backing them in Burgundy.
"Dijon have an advantage, but it's not much. Nil-nil at the 88th minute isn't a bad scoreline, because a goal in the 92nd mnute would be the best possible scenario. We'll play our game but keep things balanced. We don't have to win."
Lens have in fact won just one of their last ten competitive meetings with Djion, but have drawn five of those games. A 1-1 draw would take the tie into extra-time and then a penalty shoot-out — a higher score draw, and Lens would return to the top flight for the first time in four years.
Dijon: Runarsson - Alphonse, Yambéré, Lautoa (c), Haddadi - Amalfitano, Balmont, Marié - Saïd, Jeannot, Sliti
Lens: Vachoux - Duverne, Tahrat, Fortes, Mendy - Ba, Doucouré, Gillet (c) - Bellegarde, Gomis, Ambrose