Hosts are looking very solid in the top three and could open up a whopping nine point lead over the 4th placed team with a win tonight. They travel to play Caen, one of the few teams who could still catch them on Saturday and so we can expect them to be looking for a maximum return against Clermont. However, there is no telling if the 6-0 spanking at Monaco in the Coupe de France quarter finals on Thursday has left any scars and RCL have only won one of their last four at home, whilst meeting teams with an average league placing of 12th.
Clermont are on an unbeaten run of three games and come into this having not played for ten days, so should be refreshed and well prepared.
Lens are 8-8 ( goals scored -conceded) at home before the break , 13-4 after it, Clermont are 7-5 on the road in the opening 45 minutes, a dismal 2-11 through the second half.
Those stats clearly indicate that we can expect RCL to be the stronger of the two in the second period and they might be happy to keep things tight early after the events of Thursday evening. They are a very decent 5-2-1 when level at half time at home ( 9-6-2 including away starts), Clermont 0-2-4 on the road.
Lens get Alaeddine Yahia ( 21-1-1) back in central defence, incredibly, in all competitions, they have conceded 21 goals in 25 starts when Yahia plays, 27 in 10 without him, an increase of 1.86 goals per game , welcome back ! However, they are without centre back Ahmed Kantari ( 21-1-0), midfielder Pierrick Valdivia (21-2-2) and a handful of longer term injuries.
Clermont arrive without centre back Cédric Avinel ( 23-1-1... no wins in six without him), right back Anthony Lippini (17-0-0), defensive midfielder and captain Eugène Ekobo ( 29-0-1 ...ever present........Clermont lost the last four matches he missed last season), plus striker Grégory Bettiol ( 20-4-1).
Definitely advantage to Lens in terms of team news and they should win this, but quotes of -0.75 ball 1.98 seems about right to me. I might take a little if and when they reach 2.0 for the straight win "in running" , but I will be very happy to bet them at the break if we are all square and playing, as always 11 v 11.
Lens : Areola, Riou - Baal, Gbamin, Landre, Tisserand, Touré, Yahia - Bourigeaud, Cyprien, Le Moigne, Nomenjanahary, Salli - Chavarria, Coulibaly, Ndiaye, Ljuboja, Touzghar.