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Aug 15, 2021 at 2pm UK
MontpellierMontpellier HSC
Cassama (7', 26'), Kebbal (83')
Cafaro (32'), Locko (49')
FT(HT: 2-3)
Cozza (5'), Delort (38'), Laborde (43')
Thuler (25')

Preview: Reims vs. Montpellier HSC - prediction, team news, lineups

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

After extending their unbeaten streak in Ligue 1 openers to six, Reims look to build momentum as they welcome Montpellier HSC to the Stade Auguste-Delaune II on Sunday.

The hosts had the better opening weekend, but Montpellier will be eager to get some points on the board in a clash that has not been overly kind to them in recent years.

Match preview

Reims' first league match under the watchful eye of new manager Oscar Garcia may not have been the most entertaining, but a point away at Nice will have been a satisfactory result for the Spaniard.

Garcia, who last managed Celta Vigo, has replaced David Guion in the dugout, after a disappointing 2020-21 campaign which saw Reims follow up finishes of eighth and fifth in the previous two years with a lowly 14th, just two points clear of relegation.

Les Rouges et Blancs finished the season in appalling form - with four losses in their last five games and winless in eight - but those in the boardroom have not complemented their managerial appointment with much activity in the summer transfer window.

Their signings have been limited to 40-year-old goalkeeper Nicolas Penneteau on a free transfer and central defender Andrew Gravillon on loan from Inter Milan, despite having sold star striker Boulaye Dia for around £10m.

His absence was certainly felt in the 0-0 draw with Nice, and finding the source of those missing goals - considering that nobody else in the squad managed to hit the back of the net five times in the league last season - is perhaps the biggest conundrum facing the new man in the dugout.

Montpellier, on the other hand, managed two goals in their opening game at home to Marseille. Unfortunately for them, the visitors bagged three.

La Paillade are another team with a new manager - Olivier Dall'Oglio effectively swapping places with Michel Der Zakarian, who took over the role vacated by Dall'Oglio at Brest - and the 57-year-old will have seen glimmers of promise in the game against Marseille, despite the disappointing final scoreline.

In the end, it was some Dimitri Payet magic that turned the match around, but Montpellier will be frustrated to have let a two-goal lead slip through their fingers and one of Dall'Oglio's first jobs must be to tighten up a leaky defence.

That is not the Frenchman's calling card, though, as his Brest side ended last season with 64 goals conceded. His reputation is more for free-flowing, attacking football, so expect to see further high-scoring matches throughout the season.

As for this encounter, the most recent meeting resulted in a 0-0 - which seems unlikely to be repeated - and, before that, it was three consecutive wins for Reims.

If they are able to make it four from five, they can consider this to be a very solid start to the season, but they will have to improve upon last season's home form to do so, having won a shocking four of their 19 games in the previous campaign.

Reims Ligue 1 form:
  • D

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

Montpellier HSC Ligue 1 form:
  • D

Montpellier HSC form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L

Team News

Reims were dealt a terrible blow by Arber Zeneli's cruciate ligament rupture on the eve of the opening match, with the 26-year-old now a doubt to feature at all this season.

Up front, Nathanael Mbuku and Kaj Sierhuis are again expected to fill the void left by Dia, with 19-year-old El Bilal Toure - who impressed in flashes last season - also likely to get more game time as Garcia continues with a 3-5-2.

The forwards' task will be aided by the limited options available in terms of their opposite numbers. Last year's Montpellier centre-back partnership has gone - with former captain Vitorino Hilton having retired and Daniel Congre sold to Dijon - and two other members of the defensive line are still recovering from ACL injuries.

Mamadou Sakho is a noteworthy signing from Crystal Palace but is not expected to make his debut just yet, so it looks set to be Matheus Thuler and Nicolas Cozza who provide the foundations of a 4-3-3 lineup once more.

First-choice goalkeeper Jonas Omlin is out with the ankle issue which forced him to miss Euro 2020 but Teji Savanier crucially appears likely to have recovered from the hip injury he suffered during the Tokyo Olympics.

Reims possible starting lineup:
Rajkovic; Gravillon, Faes, Abdelhamid; Foket, Cafaro, Munetsi, Chavalerin, Konan; Mbuku, Sierhuis

Montpellier HSC possible starting lineup:
Bertaud; Ristic, Thuler, Cozza, Sambia; Savanier, Ferri, Mollet; Laborde, Delort, Mavididi

We say: Reims 1-1 Montpellier HSC

Reims offered next to nothing going forward against Nice, but Montpellier's lack of a convincing defence gives them a chance. The visitors were gutted to have been pegged back by Marseille and with Savanier back their gung-ho style should earn them at least a point 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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