25/02/2024

Preview: Montpellier vs. Lens - prediction, team news

Hace 3 meses

Preview: Montpellier vs. Lens - prediction, team news

Sports Mole previews Friday's Ligue 1 clash between Montpellier HSC and Lens, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Sports Mole previews Friday's Ligue 1 clash between Montpellier HSC and Lens, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Aiming to avoid a sixth game without victory in Ligue 1, Montpellier HSC host Lens at the Stade de la Mosson on Friday evening.

La Paillade were bested 2-0 by Monaco in the most recent round of fixtures, while Franck Haise's troops prolonged Lyon's misery in a thrilling 3-2 home success.


Match preview

Montpellier coach Michel Der Zakarian reacts on November 3, 2023© Reuters

Now that the new manager bounce has firmly worn off for Michel Der Zakarian, who was tempted back to the Montpellier hotseat in February, festive cheer will be in limited supply for the 60-year-old should Paillade performances continue in the same vein.

Since cruising past Toulouse 3-0 at the end of October, Montpellier have only accrued two points from a possible 15 in their five Ligue 1 fixtures since, and Der Zakarian's 10 men were no match for Monaco during their futile trip to the Stade Louis II on Sunday.

Montpellier's backline was breached by Takumi Minamino with just seven minutes on the board, and a straight red card to Kiki Kouyate extinguished any hopes of a Paillade comeback before Wissam Ben Yedder put the icing on the cake in second-half stoppage time.

A touchline ban meant that Der Zakarian was unable to oversee operations from the dugout at the weekend, but he will return to his rightful place on the turf as Montpellier sleepwalk towards danger, currently 13th in the rankings and only three points clear of Clermont in the automatic relegation zone.

Putting three past Toulouse was not a precursor for a golden streak in front of goal for Montpellier, who have since managed to make the net bulge just twice in their last 450 minutes of Ligue 1 football; a tally which Lens needed just one game to better at the weekend.

RC Lens coach Franck Haise on November 29, 2023© Reuters

Learning the hard way about giving Arsenal's electrifying attacking talents time and space to flaunt their skills, Lens returned to the Stade Bollaert-Delelis to face basement side Lyon having been humiliated in a 6-0 Champions League thrashing in North London, which put paid to their hopes of last-16 qualification.

Haise's side did not brush up on the goalscoring prowess of Lyon's 22-year-old centre-back Jake O'Brien either, as the former Crystal Palace youngster netted twice at the weekend to give the declining Gones hope, but Przemyslaw Frankowski's own brace and a Wesley Said effort saw Les Sang et Or avoid an upset.

Similarly to Montpellier, Lens also finished that encounter with just 10 players on the field as Florian Sotoca took the walk of shame, but the attacker's 90th-minute dismissal came too late for Lyon to salvage anything from the contest, allowing Haise's troops to continue their continental charge.

Amid their Champions League heartache, Lens have now strung together a nine-game unbeaten run in the French top flight - winning each of their last three - to cement a sixth-placed ranking in the table, although their current standing would only be good enough for a path into the Europa Conference League qualifiers.

O'Brien's brace at the weekend denied Lens a sixth Ligue 1 clean sheet on the spin, but Haise's steadfast charges have recorded four successive shut-outs away from home in the top flight, and Les Sang et Or have two wins and a draw under their belt from their last three meetings with Montpellier.

Montpellier HSC Ligue 1 form:
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • L

Lens Ligue 1 form:
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W


Lens form (all competitions):
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W

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Team News

RC Lens' Elye Wahi celebrates scoring their first goal on October 24, 2023© Reuters

The length of Kouyate's suspension is yet to be determined by the disciplinary committee, but Montpellier will certainly be without the centre-back on Friday night, so Christopher Jullien ought to earn a recall to the hosts' five-man shield.

Captain Teji Savanier also collected a milestone booking in the loss to Monaco, but the Frenchman's suspension should instead carry over to next weekend's trip to Metz, and La Paillade will also have Der Zakarian back from his own ban to bark orders from the sideline.

The Montpellier head coach must still work around a handful of fitness concerns, though, as Arnaud Nordin and Issiaga Sylla are both nursing calf injuries, while Leo Leroy (groin), Jordan Ferri (calf) and Theo Sainte-Luce (ankle) remain out of contention too.

Likewise, Lens manager Haise has a fresh suspension concern to factor in for Friday's game as Sotoca serves his own punishment, but former Montpellier man Elye Wahi - who departed La Paillade for Les Sang et Or over the summer - is eligible to return from a ban of his own.

With Sotoca on the naughty step, Wahi should be brought straight back into the fold for a reunion with La Paillade, with whom he scored 19 Ligue 1 goals for last season and attracted the attention of several revered European clubs before his £25.7m departure.

Two-goal hero Frankowski is set to join Wahi in earning a recall to the starting XI, but Jimmy Cabot and Wuilker Farinez are on the long road to recovery from ACL problems, while 18-year-old Ayanda Sishuba is receiving treatment for a thigh concern.


Montpellier HSC possible starting lineup:
Lecomte; Sacko, Esteve, Jullien, Omeragic, Davin; Al-Tamari, Chotard, Savanier, Khazri; Adams

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


SM words green background

We say: Montpellier HSC 0-1 Lens

Fatigue and the aftershock of their Champions League demolition versus Arsenal can be pinpointed as factors in Lens' underwhelming defensive display against Lyon, but Haise's rearguard excel on the road, while Montpellier's shooting boots have often eluded them in recent matches.

The hosts' stingy 5-4-1 setup could still prove difficult for Lens to break down more than once, but with a well-rested Wahi determined to make his mark on his old stomping ground, another three points should come the way of Les Sang et Or.


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


Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 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.Under 3.5:data

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