Foot (C1): Lens a d’autres chats à fouetter

Les étoiles de la Ligue des champions, Lens les a méritées. Au bout d’une saison 2022-23 de rêve, le club artésien a déjoué tous les pronostics pour s’inviter parmi les grands d’Europe, terminant deuxième de la Ligue 1, à un point du champion, le Paris Saint-Germain.

But the sweet melody that precedes each meeting of the biggest European club competition contrasts with the start of the season for Lens, with discordant violins. Four defeats in five matches, including one in Brest (3-2) after leading 2-0 and another at home against Metz (1-0), make up the dark record of the current last place team in Ligue 1. « This is not worthy of Racing Club de Lens, » conceded captain Brice Samba fatalistically after the loss against the Lorrains on Saturday.

This defeat is the most concerning because even though the match statistics were in their favor – 31 shots to two, in particular – the players from Artois mentally collapsed during the second half.

« I cannot reword »

Cinq matches de C1 dans l’effectif

At this point, the C1 appears to be too big for RCL, which stands as the underdog of Group B, where Arsenal is labeled as the favorite, Sevilla is on the lookout, and PSV Eindhoven is slightly behind.

Despite an ambitious recruitment with the arrivals, among others, of U21 internationals Elye Wahi (for around 35 million euros in total) and Andy Diouf (approximately 15 million euros), Lens has lost two key players during the offseason (Seko Fofana and Loïs Openda) and their squad lacks experience at this level: only fullbacks Ruben Aguilar (two) and Faitout Maouassa (three) have participated in this competition, including the qualifying matches.

Au-delà de ses joueurs, le club lui-même manque de repères dans la haute sphère du football européen, puisqu’il n’a disputé la Ligue des champions qu’à deux reprises (1998-99 et 2002-03), sans jamais parvenir à sortir de son groupe.

Perhaps the advantage of the Lensois lies precisely in the fact that no one expects them to shine: neither their opponents, who could be caught off guard, nor their supporters, who are probably more forgiving in these European clashes. How can they get rid of the pressure of the result born from last season’s exceptional performance?

At the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium, the Sang et Or will confront another struggling club. Sevilla FC, which excels more in the Europa League, which they have won seven times since 2005, than in the Champions League, lost their first three matches of the season before narrowly defeating promoted team Las Palmas (1-0) on Sunday. It is up to Lens to take advantage of this.