Ligue 1 Preview: Nice vs Lens

One of the most important games in Ligue 1 takes place in match week 16 as Nice welcomes Lens to the Allianz Riviera in the hopes of qualifying for Europe next season.

Nice are down in ninth, and their hopes of getting back into Europe for next season are gradually fading, with an eight-point gap on fifth-placed Lorient. Worse yet, they are the lowest-scoring side for those sitting outside of the relegation zone, as Nice have netted only 15 goals from 15 games.

Lens, on the other hand, has 11 wins and one loss in Ligue 1, while conceding ten goals in 15 games. Sadly for Lens, despite sitting only five points behind Paris Saint-Germain at the top of the table, a league triumph is very unlikely given the form of the league leaders. Nevertheless, they should be credited very highly for their fantastic form this season.

We now look at some of the stats that could predict the outcome of the match.

Team performances so far

Ligue 1 Preview: Nice vs Lens

The above viz shows the percentile rank of the home team in comparison to other Ligue 1 teams. We can observe that Nice are ranked very low in the attacking department. Defensively, they are performing well in terms of recoveries per 90. Nice are able to complete a good number of passes per 90 and have an 80.9 percentile rank against teams in Ligue 1. They complete 501 passes per 90 on average, with an overall pass accuracy of 86.2%.

Ligue 1 Preview: Nice vs Lens

Lens have improved a lot this season and are currently heading towards the Champions League. They have become a high-goal-scoring team, and their percentile rank is high in the attacking department. Lens are very strong when it comes to xG and shots per 90. In defence, they are efficient in terms of pressing and rank at the 90.4 percentile for high pressing success rate. Lens are the more dominant team in this clash and are on top of their game this season.

Numbers in terms of goals

Ligue 1 Preview: Nice vs Lens

Ligue 1 Preview: Nice vs Lens

Lens are currently second in the 2022-23 French Ligue 1 standings, with 36 points from 15 games played.They have won 11 matches, drawn three, and lost one. They have scored 26 goals (25.5 expected goals (xG)) and conceded ten (15.6 expected goals against (xGA)). They have an xG per match of 2.04 and 1.73 goals per 90.

Nice are currently in 9th place with 20 points from 15 matches played. They have won five matches, drawn five, and lost five. They have scored 15 goals (19.1 expected goals (xG)) and conceded 17 goals (15.8 expected goals against (xGA)). They have an xG per match of 1.47 and 1 goal per 90.

Efficiency in attack

Ligue 1 Preview: Nice vs Lens

Ligue 1 Preview: Nice vs Lens

One of the reasons behind both teams’ current form is their efficiency in attack. Lens are among the top-ranked teams in terms of efficiency of positional attacks, with 13% overall efficiency. In terms of efficiency in counter-attacks, they are currently at 20% efficiency.

Nice, on the other hand, are ranked low in both departments and lacks overall efficiency, especially in terms of counterattacks. Their opponents this time out like to maintain possession, and Nice will need to rely on their counter-attacking abilities to create any kind of threat for Lens. Nice averages 51% possession per 90 minutes, while Lens averages 57% possession per 90 minutes. Nice are performing better as compared to Lens in terms of defensive duels, winning 49% of contested duels as compared to Lens’ 42%.

Key players

Ligue 1 Preview: Nice vs Lens

The top scorer for Nice in the 2022–23 French Ligue 1 with five goals is Andy Delort (4.32 xG). In the 2022–23 French Ligue 1 season, Andy Delort has played nine matches (plus three as a sub). They have ten shots on target from a total of 23 shots and have scored five goals (4.32 xG). Andy Delort averages 17 passes per game with a pass completion rate of 65% and zero assists.

Ligue 1 Preview: Nice vs Lens

Luis Openda has found his touch in Ligue 1 this season. The winger has managed to score seven goals for his side. The Belgian’s main position is centre forward, but he also plays as a left winger or right winger. He managed to score all three goals in a 3-0 victory against Toulouse after being subbed on in the 60th minute. He enjoys getting into dangerous positions inside the box to receive the ball and scoring goals. All of his goals have come from inside the box. This shows his positional awareness and ability to enter dangerous areas. This season, Lois Openda has played 11 matches (plus four as a sub). They have 18 shots on target from a total of 37 and have scored seven goals (7.19 xG). Lois Openda averages 12 passes per game with a 71% completion rate and no assists.

Team news

For Nice Aaron Ramsey is yet to return to action following his post-World Cup holiday, while Marcin Bulka and Sofiane Diop are also ruled out. Pablo Rosario could therefore start in midfield alongside Khephren Thuram; Bilal Brahimi and Nicolas Pepe should support Gaetan Laborde up front.

Lens goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez will be among the visitors’ absentees. Brice Samba continues as Franck Haise’s No. 1, with either Jean-Louis Leca or young Yannick Pandor filling in for Farinez on the bench.

All in all, this will be a thrilling clash between the two rivals, where one is doing wonders this season and the other is yet to find some solid ground.

Visuals via TFA data viz engine