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RC Lens host Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday in a clash between the top two in Ligue 1. It will be first against second facing off due to Lens’ four-point advantage over Olympique de Marseille entering the week, while PSG’s late win over RC Strasbourg Alsace on Wednesday opened up a provisional eight-point lead. Neymar was sent off in that 2-1 success at Parc des Princes and will miss the trip north for this showdown which Lens enter seven points behind PSG after their 0-0 draw with OGC Nice on Thursday.
“It is a great game to kick-off 2023 with a great atmosphere,” said Parisien boss Christophe Galtier of the game. “It will be a full-blooded affair. We will keep up our good away form — Lens are very good at home. They concede few goals and get better season after season. My players know how important this one is.”
“Franck is a very good coach and a very smart tactician,” added Galtier of opposite number Franck Haise. “As a man, he is a very good person which counts for a lot in my eyes. He has made Lens very solid in the changes he has brought to the club — they are a big club once again in Ligue 1. They have every right to believe, to hope, and to dream of an extraordinary season. Based on their points and quality of performances, Lens are the best team that we will face this opening half of the season.”
Here’s our storylines, how you can watch the match and more:
Lens: Haise i assessing his troops after the Nice draw, but Wuilker Farinez is a long-term casualty and is unlikely to play this season. Jimmy Cabot is also out for a lengthy period of time and might not return in time for the end of this campaign. Adam Buksa remains out and David Pereira Da Costa has injured his shoulder, but Alexis Claude Maurice should be available again after missing the OGCN clash due to a clause in his loan contract inserted by his parent club. Joker signing Julien Le Cardinal was in the group to face Nice and should be in line for his home debut here. Facundo Medina also picked up a knock in that goalless draw.
“There are many matches to go and we need to recuperate quickly,” said Haise after Thursday’s 0-0 with Nice. “There was a lot of effort put in and we have a very big game coming up. This draw was logical and you have to be satisfied when we had so many attacking figures missing. Choices were made and I had to keep a few attacking options fresh from the bench. Wesley Said had to come off slightly earlier than expected, but I have no regrets.”
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PSG: Neymar will now miss out through suspension so he joins Presnel Kimpembe, Nuno Mendes, Renato Sanches, and Timothee Pembele is missing out on this one. Lionel Messi is expected back in the first few days of January after Argentina’s FIFA World Cup win, but not in time to feature in this one. Kylian Mbappe will be well and truly the main man for Christophe Galtier’s side here after his late penalty heroics against Strasbourg.
“Not having Neymar nor Lionel Messi is not insignificant,” said Galtier. “We know how important our front three is and that they are of the highest quality. I have a pretty good idea of what I will be asking of my available players.”
This one should be very tight and a draw should not be regarded as a poor result for PSG considering how good Lens are at home. Both sides to score and the points shared sounds like a smart bet while any potential winning margin is like to be slim. RCL have not lost since early October while Les Parisiens are unbeaten all season across all competitions. Pick: Lens 1, PSG 1.
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