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Preview: Lorient vs. Lens - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Lorient vs. Lens - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Ligue 1 clash between Lorient and Lens, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Lorient enter their 23rd Ligue 1 encounter with a chance to end a lengthy winless run domestically (15 games) when they host Lens, who are hoping to climb back into the race for a spot in Europe next season.

Les Merlus are second from the bottom, but only two points behind Metz for a relegation playoff, while Les Sang et Or were eliminated by Monaco in the Coupe de France this past weekend and are sitting a point back of Rennes for a place in the Europa Conference League.

Match preview

After a pair of positive results to end last year and begin 2022, drawing Paris Saint-Germain (1-1) and Angers (0-0), Christophe Pelissier has seen his side start their last two league matches poorly, losing to Lille (3-1) and Nantes (4-2).

There have not been a lot of positive notes for the 56-year-old former midfielder to take away from his side's recent form, but one would be the fact that they have been a little more clinical in the final third so far this year with three goals in their last two games, which is as many as they scored in their previous nine matches in all competitions.

After conceding four goals to La Maison Jaune, Pelissier noted afterwards that they are still making far too many mental errors defensively, which had to have been disappointing because they created many opportunities in the second half of that game.

It is pretty incredible to think that this club have not won a Ligue 1 fixture since beating Nice 1-0 back on September 22, and yet one win could nearly get them out of relegation danger.

That should serve as a solid motivation for this group to keep fighting, and it could very well be something that has been driving them of late because, as their manager has pointed out, the players continue to press hard, putting opposing teams on their heels even after conceding.

Should this team fail to collect all three points this weekend, it would tie a club record for the longest winless run at home, equalling the mark set in between March and August 2011, when Les Merlus failed to win eight in a row.

The New Year began impressively for Franck Haise and his players before they ran into a wall at home to Marseille, struggling to find solutions against that defensive posture.

Technically speaking, they have not been particularly sharp off the ball, allowing Monaco and Marseille far too many quality scoring opportunities, and when you give the likes of Dimitri Payet and Wissam Ben Yedder an opening, you often pay the price.

Seeing them shut out at the end of 90 minutes is rare, in fact, before their defeat to Les Olympiens, they had found the back of the net in nine successive games in all competitions, and they have never gone goalless in back-to-back league fixtures this season.

They fight hard for one another, as they seemingly have someone different every game who scores or sets up a goal, but there is no straightforward target man for them in the attack.

Since the start of 2022, we have seen a complete shift at the beginning of their encounters, conceding a first-half strike in each of their previous three matches played in all competitions after scoring three times in the opening 45 minutes in their final two league games last year.

A former assistant at Lorient, Haise likes to set up in a 3-4-1-2 formation, a system that can be highly effective at times, with a solid press up high and some good cover in behind from their holding midfielders.

Lorient Ligue 1 form:
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • D
  • L
  • L

Lorient form (all competitions):
  • L
  • L
  • D
  • D
  • L
  • L

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

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

Team News

Lorient reserve striker Dango Ouattara scored the winner for Burkina Faso in their 1-0 victory versus Tunisia in the quarter-finals at the Africa Cup of Nations but was red-carded before that game was over as he missed their semi-final defeat this week to Senegal (3-1).

Laurent Abergel has a problem with his groin, Samuel Loric has a thigh issue and Jeremy Morel is still dealing with a muscle injury.

Terem Moffi notched his third of the season in their previous encounter, moving him into a tie for second on the team with Thomas Monconduit and one behind the leader Armand Lauriente, while Sambou Soumano is third in scoring now alongside Julien Laporte, after picking up his second of the campaign late in their defeat to Nantes.

Wesley Said and Arnaud Kalimuendo had the goals for Les Sang et Or last weekend in their Coupe de France elimination, while their previous tallies domestically came courtesy of Florian Sotoca and Seko Fofana in a 2-1 come from behind victory versus Saint-Etienne.

Wuilker Farinez conceded four goals for Venezuela in a 4-1 defeat to Uruguay in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday, Ignatius Ganago sat on the bench for Cameroon in their semi-final defeat to Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations, while Deiver Machado might not be ready in time for this game due to a meniscus injury.

Jonathan Clauss has been the provider for Lens all season with nine assists, which is tied with Kylian Mbappe for the most domestically, and he notched the opener in a 2-2 draw with Lorient back in August.

Lorient possible starting lineup:
Nardi; Petrot, Jenz, Laporte, Silva; Monconduit; Boisgard, Lemoine, Le Fee, Lauriente; Moffi

Lens possible starting lineup:
Leca; Gradit, Danso, Pereira; Clauss, Doucoure, Fofana, Frankowski; Berg, Said; Balde

We say: Lorient 2-1 Lens

These teams may be separated by 16 points in the standings at the moment, but Lorient have shown tremendous effort in recent games and might be due for a break in this encounter.

Les Merlus have beaten Lens in five of their previous six home fixtures, failing to concede to them in each of those victories, and this group have fared well against teams in the top half of the table, defeating Monaco, Lille and Nice.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 2.5 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 2.5:data

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