Lens remain focused on surprising Ligue 1 title race

Few predicted any real competition for Paris Saint-Germain at the start of the season. Yet having now passed the midway point of the 2022-23 campaign, winning Ligue 1 might not be as straightforward as many were expecting. Lens have apparently refused to concede defeat, setting up a thrilling race for the championship title in France.

Known as The Blood and Gold by their fans, Lens are determinedly giving both to the cause of their colours, thanks to consistently mixing effort with glittering displays. Individually and collectively, this team has defied all the start of season forecasts, particularly having won every home game so far, ahead of taking on Nice on 1st February and at the time of writing.

While they have only lost one game on the road this term, narrowly defeated 1-0 away at Lille, there is room for improvement when playing as visitors. Aside from the singular loss, Lens have won five and tied six, highlighting one potential chink in their armour as title candidates. This was evidenced in the 1-1 draw at Troyes, when Lens dominated but lacked enough killer instinct in the final third of the pitch.

This could eventually undermine the work being done by head coach Franck Haise, although the 51-year-old has already earned widespread praise in France, having elevated Lens to seventh position in each of the last two seasons. Mounting such an impressive campaign is worthy of great respect the club and its manager, just a few seasons after climbing back into the French top tier.

Oddsmakers are still dismissive

PSG are obviously the firm favourites insofar as the bookies are concerned, with most believing their title probabilities are practically a foregone conclusion, unwilling to pay more than 1.05 if they meet expectations. Just as interestingly, despite being within touching distance of the Ligue 1 summit, oddsmakers are still being quite generous with their prices for Lens.

But ahead of being tempted into backing Lens, comparing the latest odds will certainly make sense, given they differ quite significantly from one bookie to the next. Indeed, this is always advised in guides covering the best Arabic football betting sites, placing an emphasis on finding value from outright markets.

Some leading betting companies have shortened their prices to 19.00 for Lens, amidst growing confidence their challenge for the title can be maintained. Others are still rather sceptical that PSG will be toppled, confidently offering lengthier 29.00 priced odds on Lens winning the French championship, and this is a substantial margin of difference.

However, this could ultimately provide the team and Lens fans with added impetus, as if the chance to rise above PSG wasn’t inspiration enough. Furthermore, this club has only won the French title once in the entirety of their history, doing so during a wonderful 1997-98 season for the team, unable to match the same heights in subsequent decades. While the odds are firmly stacked against the current Lens efforts, they certainly don’t lack the courage to try.

Any chance of Marseille in the mix?

If there is one other club with any glimmer of hope, then Marseille will certainly feel positive about remaining in the hunt. Particularly following an unbeaten run stretching to eight Ligue 1 games, from the end of November to the conclusion of January. This was an excellent recovery, following a hugely disappointing trio of defeats in October.

During the space of just three games, Marseille were beaten at home by AC Ajaccio, away at PSG, then again at home by Lens. Those losses against direct title rivals will obviously need to be avenged, if Les Olympiens are to keep involved in the title race. Doing so would provide a good return on their summer investments, having spent big in order to challenge seriously.

Essentially, any signs of wavering from PSG will burst the Ligue 1 title chase wide open, and possibly more so given their inevitable focus on winning the Champions League. This could present Lens and Marseille with an unmissable opportunity, one that both sides will be hoping to grasp, attempting to defy all the odds and keeping everyone on the edge of their seats.

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