Preview RC Lens-Sevilla FC
Pre-match reports


Diego Alonso only has 11 first-team players in the matchday squad
Cuerpo Superior

Insider View:

Luke Entwistle, France-based Freelance Sports Journalist, Editor-in-Chief 'Get French Football News'


Lens are currently 7th in Ligue 1 and 3rd in the UCL group, what do you make of their season so far?

It has very much been a season of two halves, and it is actually the match against Sevilla that sparked the revival. By the time of that match in September, Lens were bottom of Ligue 1 and were yet to register a win, with Franck Haise saying that there was “cause for worry”. 

However, that draw in Sevilla proved a turning point and Lens have not lost in the league since. The defensive solidity, which defined last season’s title challenge, has returned, with Les Sang et Or keeping 6 clean sheets in their last 7 Ligue 1 games and conceding just two goals in the league since October 20th. 

The turnaround has been quite remarkable and Lens are clearly back on the right path.

Lens have only lost one game at home all season and beat Arsenal 2-1 on Matchday two of the Champions League, how important has the home form been at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis?

The Bollaert has been a fortress these past couple of years. The atmosphere within the stadium is electric and sell-outs have become the norm. The famous ‘Chicoté’ chant, which came after home victories, is now a thing of the past, but the ‘Chant des Corons’, which references the town’s mining heritage, is a chilling anthem. 

The home fans give a huge boost and make it a difficult place for any team to come. However, the absence of away fans would spoil what should be a special occasion.

Only needing a draw to qualify for the Europa League, how confident will Lens be of getting a result?

There will be cautious optimism of securing a result. Only a draw is needed and a stout defensive performance would therefore be enough. There isn’t a question of Lens going out to play for a 0-0, but given how strong the defensive unit of Facundo Medina, Kevin Danso and Jonathan Gradit have been in recent games, Lens will be optimistic of shutting Sevilla out.

Who have been this season’s standout performers that our players will need to keep an eye on?

This Lens side are certainly more about the collective rather than the individuals within it. 

The veteran Florian Sotoca is a consistent and impressive performer, and his defensive work high up the pitch is crucial in allowing Lens to play like they do. Elye Wahi was the big summer signing and despite showing flashes of his brilliance, he has yet to consistently show the quality that he displayed at Montpellier. 

Andy Diouf was another big summer signing, but he has struggled for form since joining from Basel and has been used sparingly in Europe. Salis Abdul Samed has often started alongside former Leicester City midfielder Nampalys Mendy and both have performed well.

Lens’ defence is undoubtedly their standout strength and Kevin Danso is the pick of the bunch. Despite some key departures in the summer, Les Sang et Or did well to keep hold of the Austrian international and he is central to the club’s revival in recent weeks.

Lens’s best run in European football came in the 1999-2000 UEFA Cup, in which they reached the semi-finals. How eager will fans be to have European football after Christmas?

As you say, it’s been a while since Lens were in Europe and they’ll be keen to remain in it! A cup run offers hope to fans and they would love to see silverware come to the Bollaert. Lens’ style of play, based on defensive solidity and good organisation in and out of possession, is really suited to knockout football, so if they get through, they’ll be optimistic of getting far. 

The emphasis will, however, likely be on securing European football for next season, for financial and sporting reasons. Lens will be wary of a Europa League run not hindering their league form in the second-half of the season.


The preview of...

RC Lens-Sevilla FC, our final match of the Champions League group stage. Kick off is at 18:45 CET at the Bollaert Delelis stadium.


Diego Alonso has named an 18-man squad that includes only 11 regular first-team members: Dmitrovic, Alberto Flores, Matías, Juanlu, Darío, Gudelj, Gattoni, Kike Salas, Sergio Ramos, Pedrosa, Soumaré, Sow, Rakitic, Óliver Torres, Manu Bueno Collado, En-Nesyri and Rafa Mir.


Like us, RC Lens cannot reach the Champions League knockout stages, therefore this match is a straight shootout for a Europa League spot. We need to win the game but a draw will be enough for Lens to claim a spot in the Europa League Round of 32.

An interesting fact

The city of Lens has a population of approximately 32,000 people but, slightly peculiarly, the Bollaert Delelis stadium has a capacity of more than 38,000!


The man in the middle will be German referee Felix Zwayer.