Toulouse will be hoping that their return to league play is not “after the Lord Mayor’s show” after their spectacular Coupe de France victory. Le Téfécé defeated Nantes 5-1 in the championship match on Saturday, winning their first significant trophy in the process. Manager Philippe Montanier said that this victory would “go down in the history of the competition.”
The manager will now be desperate for his team to capitalize on this momentum and go into the top half of Ligue 1 for the first time since 2013/14. That would top off an already remarkable season for a team that was only recently promoted back to the top tier. However, they have lost their last four home league games, and seven of the eight goals they have given up during that stretch have come after halftime.
Toulouse may struggle to turn things around against Lens, who have won the last three encounters between the two teams, including a 3-0 victory in October when Lo’s Openda scored a hat-trick in the second half. After a run of five victories in their past six games (L1), Franck Haise’s team will also enter Stade Ernest-Wallon full of confidence. This run has kept them in the running for a spot in the top three.
The most recent of those wins was a 3-0 thrashing of Monaco, who were in fourth position at the time, which the manager called “our best match of the season.” After that victory, his team is expected to make the Champions League for the first time in 20 years, though they could use a few more road victories after picking up just two wins in their previous nine away league games (D5, L2).
Thijs Dallinga has scored first or last in six of his previous eight league games for Toulouse. Visiting goalkeeper Brice Samba, who is unbeaten in his last three matches with Le Téfécé (W2, D1) and has kept one clean sheet, will be the opponent he will be attempting to extend that record against.
Due to a chronic knee ailment, Toulouse will once again be missing Rhys Healey, but the hosts are generally in good shape going into the game.
Following the Coupe de France championship, head coach Montanier will need to evaluate the players’ condition, but it wouldn’t be unexpected to see the same starting lineup for this game.
Dallinga, 22, will once again play in the last third of the field for the home team after scoring twice in the championship game on Saturday. Dallinga has scored 12 league goals this season.
Wesley Said and Steven Fortes, who play for Lens, won’t be available for selection on Tuesday night owing to knee and muscle issues, respectively.
Salis Abdul Samed, who is still suspended, will also be unavailable to the Champions League contenders.
The Lens XI for this match is not expected to present any significant shocks, with Openda set to again lead the line with assistance from Thomasson and Florian Sotoca.
Toulouse possible starting lineup
Haug, Desler, Costa, Nicolaisen, Suazo, Van den Boomen, Spierings, Aboukhlal, Dejaegere, Chaibi and Dallinga.
Lens possible starting lineup
Samba, Gradit, Danso, Medina, Frankowski, Onana, Fofana, Machado, Sotoca, Openda, and Thomasson.
We predict: Toulouse 1-1 Lens
The fact that both clubs are in great shape should make Tuesday’s showdown exciting. We have to accept a draw in this game because Toulouse will be full of confidence and Lens are desperately trying to get all three points to keep fighting for a top two spot.