Lens and Monaco face off in the final game of the 2020/21 Ligue 1 season with both clubs harbouring European ambitions on Sunday at 8pm (UK time).
Lens currently occupy sixth, which would gain them access to the inaugural Europa Conference League next term, though Rennes are lying in wait in seventh with just a point separating the two clubs. Monaco meanwhile precariously inhabit third, the final Champions League spot, but Lyon are also just a point behind.
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Scoreline prediction: Lens 0-1 Monaco
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Lens vs Monaco build-up, previous line-ups & injury news:
Across Europe’s top five leagues Lens have been one of the most impressive sides, with the newly-promoted club marking their first campaign back in the top flight currently camped in sixth and on the cusp on gaining access to continental football for 2021/22, which would cap a remarkable reunion with ligue 1.
Monaco, likewise, have enjoyed a stellar campaign, with the club putting their 17th-placed finish in 2018/19 well and truly behind them and re-establishing their status near the summit. Under former Bayern Munich manager Niko Kovac the club are on the charge and now on the brink of re-entering the Champions League.
- Lens (vs Bordeaux): Leca; Clauss, Gradit, Bade, Medina, Boura; Kakuta, Doucoure, Fofana; Ganago, Banza.
- Monaco (vs PSG): Majecki; Sidibe, Disasi, Maripan, Henrique; Aguilar, Golovin, Tchouameni, Fofana, Volland; Ben Yedder.
The hosts welcome back a trident of players from suspension, with Clement Michelin, Florian Sotoca and Issiaga Sylla all returning from their respective bans, the latter of whom was out for three games. Monaco meanwhile have a clean bill of health for the final game.
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Players to watch:
- Lens: The Achilles’ heel for Franck Haise’s side this season has unquestionably been their defensive vulnerabilities, with the Blood and Gold currently possessing the second-worst goals-conceded record in the top half of the Ligue 1 table (54). In fact, Lens have conceded at least one goal in each of their last 13 league games, which is the longest ongoing run without a clean sheet among sides currently in the division, and the club’s longest since May-November 1975 (17). If the hosts are to pull off a result against Monaco – the third-highest scorers in the division – then they will need to firm up at the back and transform a porous backline into a watertight one. The importance of 21-year-old Loic Bade hence takes on a greater significance. The centre-back currently ranks first at the club for interceptions this season in Ligue 1 (71), as well as clearances (129), headed clearances (55) and possessions won in the defensive third (136).
- Monaco: As the division’s third-highest scorers (76 goals), Monaco naturally boast more than one prodigious goal-getter. Wissam Ben Yedder (20 goals) and Kevin Volland (16 goals) have been the leading final-third difference-makers for the club, but it has been the creative exploits of Aleksandr Golovin that has facilitated such scoring freedom going forward. The 24-year-old is the chief playmaker for the club with nine assists, while his five goals as well means he has been directly involved in 14 goals in just 20 games for Monaco. In fact, only Andrey Arshavin (17 with Arsenal in 2010/11) has had more goal involvements in a single campaign among Russian players in Europe’s top five leagues across the past 15 seasons.
Ligue 1 2020/21 recent form:
- Lens: LLLWD
- Monaco: WWLWW
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