Europe1 .fr with AFP 09:37, November 29, 2023This Wednesday evening, Lens face Arsenal in London, to try to pave the way for the knockout stages of the Champions League. It's a mountain that the Blood and Gold will try to climb in the English capital, against the natural favourites in Group B, who took the lead in the Premier League last weekend.
In an unfavourable position in their Champions League group, Lens face Arsenal on Wednesday (21:00) in London with their first-leg exploit in mind, to keep alive the dream of qualifying for the knockout stages.
It's a mountain that the Blood and Gold will try to climb in the English capital, against the natural favourites in Group B, who took the lead in the Premier League last weekend. But if they reach the top, they will remain in the race to take part in the spring games of Europe's most prestigious competition, bringing together the top 16 teams at the end of the first phase.
But before dancing with the stars, there is a road to go and it is strewn with pitfalls, one of them being PSV, who defeated Lens in Eindhoven (1-0) on the last day in the match that should not be lost. Third with five points, Lens no longer have the advantage of direct confrontations with the Dutch club, second with the same number of points. If the Artesian club loses in London and PSV win in Sevilla a little earlier (18:45 p.m.), they will only be able to hope for third place leading to the Europa League.
Kevin Danso "fit"
At the top of the group, Arsenal (nine points) are very close to reaching the knockout stages of C1. They just need not to lose to Lens, or even hope for a defeat for PSV in Andalusia, in which case even a setback would not prevent them from reaching the final draw.
There was uncertainty over the presence of Lens defensive rock Kevin Danso, who had to withdraw from Clermont this weekend because of pain, but Franck Haise said in a press conference on Tuesday that the Austrian would be "fit". But there are reasons for hope. First of all, we must remember the majestic performance in the first leg at the Stade Bollaert, when the club from the mining basin overthrew Arsenal (2-1) in an extraordinary atmosphere.
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Franck Haise's players had deployed a crazy amount of energy to prevent Mikel Arteta's players from setting up their slick attacking game. They also managed to show great technical accuracy to score two nice goals and admirable mental strength to equalize and then take the lead.
Remembering the Wembley Achievement
The defeat in Eindhoven, after having conceded a draw at home to the same opponent in the first leg (1-1), should not make us forget the superb momentum of the Artesian club, engaged in an eight-match unbeaten run in Ligue 1 that has allowed them to climb back up to sixth place after languishing in the depths of the table. In the league, the Artois club have not conceded a goal in their last five games and have rediscovered their verve in attack, scoring eight times in that period.
"We know that the opponent is stronger than us," admits Franck Haise. Just because he's stronger than us doesn't mean we can't cause him problems and get a result. We have to raise the level in all aspects of the game but we come with this ambition, to at least be at the level of Arsenal."
And beyond the numbers, and their current good momentum, Lens can also remember one of their greatest European exploits, when they managed to win against the Gunners at Wembley (1-0) in front of 73,707 people, almost exactly 25 years ago. On 25 November 1998, a goal from Michaël Debève gave Lens the victory. A margin in their favor on Wednesday night, however small, will be enough to keep them happy.