In the opening round of the 2022–23 Ligue 1 season, Lens will host Brest at Stade Bollaert-Delelis on Sunday.
The Breton visitors’ record is even worse than the hosts’, who have always struggled on the first day of a new season, having gone winless in nine games in the top division.
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With Paris Saint-Germain set to sprint off into the distance and other clubs having realistic hopes of finishing in the top six, Lens are aiming to move up from last season’s seventh place.
Les Sang et Or nearly lost out on earning a spot in the European football competition in the spring, but they have been busy training for the battle ahead with some illustrious friendlies.
After recording three straight victories over less formidable domestic rivals, Lens defeated Inter Milan by a score of 1-0 at the end of last month and then held West Ham United to a scoreless tie, giving Franck Haise’s team reason for confidence.
The former B-team manager, who was elevated to the top position back in 2020, has changed the composition of his squad over the summer break. Jimmy Cabot has replaced the departing Jonathan Clauss for Marseille, and Adam Buksa and Lois Openda have joined Congo goalkeeper Brice Samba at the organization.
Since their return to Ligue 1 two years ago, consecutive seventh-place results have re-established Lens among the top teams in France, and they have so far been able to keep midfield guru Seko Fofana, which shows their desire.
Haise will now anticipate his team to win in their opening match of the regular season after winning four of their six preseason games while allowing only one goal in the process.
Brest, who defeated Lens at home and away last season, has other plans for the outcome of the game on Sunday. After a thrashing 4-0 victory at Stade Francis-Le Ble in November, the Breton team stunned their northern rivals with a 1-0 victory on the road in the spring. Les Pirates, like Lens, have a history of underwhelming on the opening day of the Ligue 1 season; in their last nine such games, they have lost four and drawn five.
The 2021–22 season came to a disappointing end for Michel Der Zakarian’s team, who dropped their final three games and gave up four goals in each of their final two games.
Brest may be concerned this season about the league’s impending decrease to 18 teams, which means four clubs will be demoted, given that they ultimately ended 11th, far from danger but also far from the European spots.
Their chances of getting off to a fast start are especially high considering that they will be traveling to Lens this week and hosting Marseille in their first two games.
As both teams attempt to improve upon their terrible opening-day records, something must give. Lens is most likely to succeed due to a combination of home field advantage and their superior offensive firepower.