Coupe de France 32emes : RC Lens v Boulogne
Something of a local derby, Ligue 2 side Lens host Boulogne of the National in the final game of this round on Monday evening. Both these teams have underperformed so far in their respective leagues so will be looking for a win here to start the new year in the right frame of mind.
Lens have started to get their season back on track after an awful start where they lost their first seven league games. Since then they have steadied the ship, losing only three times in their next 12 games. In the cup, they have been solid with a 5-0 defeat of a regional side before an extra-time win over runaway Ligue 2 leaders Reims.
Key to their improved performances are forward pair Cristian Lopez and Kevin Fortune, who between them have 14 goals and five assists. The major disappointment for Lens has been the form of John Bostock, with last season’s Ligue 2 player of the year having recently lost his place in the starting XI. Bostock was part of everything good Lens did last season but he has looked a far cry from that player with rumours over his departure from the club maybe playing a part. Les Sang et or had a mixed run in the cup last season as they knocked out Ligue 1 opposition in Metz before succumbing to fourth-tier side Bergerac-Perigord. Eric Sikora will be doing all he can to ensure his side remain focused on avoiding another shock.
Boulogne have also had an underwhelming season to date with the side currently in the relegation zone and finding themselves in a close battle to avoid the drop. They have only won three games all season with goals proving hard to come by in particular as only one other team has found the net fewer times. Club record goalscorer Gregory Thil must surely be coming towards the end of his second stint at the club as at 37 they can’t look to rely on him as a regular source of goals. It is Ivorian Koro Kone who has tried to take on that title as his eight goals equates to more than half of all Boulogne’s goals this season.
It has felt a long time since the glory era under Philippe Montanier when he took the side from the then CFA division all the way to Ligue 1 and for the time being it doesn’t feel like those good times will be coming again soon. In the cup last season, they were the victims of their own “cupset” as they lost to seventh tier Villeneuve-d’Ascq Métropole. They have played lower-league opposition in each of their four games prior to this round but have hardly put in any commanding performances of note.
In theory this should be a straightforward tie for Lens who at least have found some improved form of late, but with both sides still far from their best, there is always the potential for an upset.