Second-placed Lens will travel to the Allianz Riveira full of confidence following a run of magnificent pre-World Cup form which saw a run of five league wins in a row. Meanwhile, Nice will be hoping to build on an improvement in results and performances in the late Autumn period. Both sides will be coming off the back of a World Cup break which hasn’t caused too much disruption in player absences, as they turn swiftly to their respective Ligue 1 campaigns in France’s own Boxing day-style set of festive fixtures.
With Aaron Ramsey being the only absentee from the World Cup, OGC Nice still have some uncertainties in their starting XI with Sofiane Diop and Mario Lemina only having returned to full training in the last week. It is a similar situation for Andy Delort, who missed the latest preparation fixtures during the winter break due to illness. Meanwhile, Youcef Atal is still being treated in hospital whilst Mattia Viti is recovering from an adductor injury.
Thus Lucien Favre will have to fill some gaps in defence, and is likely to line-up with a back three which was seen in Les Aiglons’ last winter break friendly with Tottenham Hotspur.
On the Sang & Or’s side, manager Franck Haise confirmed that David Pereira Da Costa will miss the game due to a shoulder injury, whilst Alexis Claude-Maurice will not be allowed to play against his parent-club as per his loan agreement. Salis Abdul Samed and Seko Fofana were absent with illness for their last friendly against Reims, but will be set for a place in the starting line-up. The usual back three of Danso, Medina, and Gradit should be expected. The absences of Pereira Da Costa and Claude-Maurice could see Loïs Openda mobilised on the left side, or slightly left of the central striker position.
OGC Nice predicted XI against Lens:
Schmeichel – Rosario, Dante, Todibo – Bard, Thuram, Beka Beka, Barkley, Lotomba – Laborde, Pépé.
Lens predicted XI against OGC Nice:
Samba – Danso, Medina, Gradit, – Frankowski, Abdul Samed, Fofana, Machado – Openda, Saïd, Sotoca.
GFFN | George Boxall