Sports Mole previews Saturday’s Ligue 1 clash between Monaco and Lens, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Two teams with four points to show from their first two matches of the 2022-23 Ligue 1 season will lock horns on Saturday afternoon, with Monaco welcoming Lens to Stade Louis II.
Monaco will enter the contest off the back of a 1-1 draw with Rennes last weekend, while Lens played out a goalless draw with Ajaccio in their second match of the campaign.
Monaco will play in the Europa League this season, having lost to PSV Eindhoven in the third qualifying round of the Champions League; the two teams played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg on August 2 before PSV won 3-2 after extra-time in the second leg in Eindhoven seven days later.
The principality outfit have been in action since the second leg with PSV, playing out a 1-1 draw with Rennes last Saturday, which followed a 2-1 victory over Strasbourg in their first game of the new Ligue 1 season.
Monaco were actually behind at home to Rennes last weekend until the 72nd minute, when Breel Embolo found the back of the net, with the two teams sharing the spoils at Stade Louis II.
Philippe Clement‘s side finished third in Ligue 1 last season, just two points behind second-placed Marseille, which makes failing to qualify for the Champions League even more difficult to take, as they were so close to securing a spot in the group stage through their league position.
Monaco, who are currently fifth in the Ligue 1 table on four points, still have three league matches before the end of the month, including a trip to the champions Paris Saint-Germain on August 28.
Lens, meanwhile, finished seventh in Ligue 1 last season, which was not enough to secure any European football for this term, but they were only four points behind fifth-placed Nice.
The 1997-98 French champions have also made a positive start to their 2022-23 campaign, starting with a 3-2 success over Brest on the opening weekend of the new season.
Lens were held to a goalless draw by Ajaccio last time out but will now be looking to return to winning ways against Monaco before hosting Rennes and Lorient in their final two matches of the month.
Franck Haise‘s side are actually unbeaten to Monaco in France’s top flight since April 2015, winning two of their last four games, including a 2-0 success in the reverse match last term.
Lens have lost just two of their last nine Ligue 1 matches against their opponents this weekend and will certainly fancy their chances of claiming a positive result at Stade Louis II.
Monaco Ligue 1 form:
Monaco form (all competitions):
Lens Ligue 1 form:
Monaco will be missing Youssouf Fofana on Saturday due to the red card that the midfielder picked up in the 1-1 draw with Rennes last time out, so 18-year-old Soungoutou Magassa could come in for a start.
The home side will also be missing Ruben Aguilar, Yllan Okou, Willem Geubbels and Myron Boadu through injury.
Malang Sarrwho has joined the club on loan from Chelsea, could potentially feature in the middle of the defense, but there are unlikely to be any changes in attack, with Embolo again set to join Wissam Ben Yedder in a front two.
Nor for Lens, Gael Kakuta, Adam Buksa and Wilker Farinez will be unavailable for selection against Monaco through injury problems.
The visitors did not pick up any fresh issues in their goalless draw with Ajaccio last time out, though, and head coach Haise is expected to resist the temptation to shuffle his pack.
David Costa should again feature in an attacking area despite pressure from Wesley Saidwhile Lois Openda is also set to retain his spot in the final third of the field.
Monaco possible starting lineup:
Nubel; Vanderson, Sarr, Maripan, Henrique; Diatta, Lucas, Magassa, Golovin; Embolo, Ben Yedder
Lens possible starting lineup:
Samba; Gradit, Danso, Medina; Frankowski, Samed, Fofana, Machado; Costa; Sotoca, Openda
We say: Monaco 2-1 Lens
Both of these sides will fancy their chances of claiming a positive result on Saturday, and we are expecting a tight contest. It would certainly not be a surprise to see a draw at Stade Louis II, but we just have a feeling that Monaco’s quality in the final third will allow them to claim a narrow win.
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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