MX23RW : Friday, October 16 01:22:58| >> :120:43257:43257:
Aug 23, 2020 at 2pm UK at Stade Yves Allainmat - Le Moustoir
Wissa (51'), Grbic (60' pen.), Hamel (87')
Boisgard (69'), Wadja (72'), Laporte (79')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Chahiri (30')
Simakan (37'), Carole (82')

Preview: Lorient vs. Strasbourg - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Ligue 1 clash between Lorient and Strasbourg, including team news and predicted lineups.

Lorient will mark their return to the pinnacle of French football with a home fixture against Strasbourg in the opening weekend of the 2020-21 Ligue 1 campaign.

Meanwhile, Strasbourg are now entering their fourth consecutive season of top-flight football and managed to secure a top-ten finish upon the curtailment of the 2019-20 campaign.

Match preview

Christophe Pelissier pictured in charge of Amiens in February 2019© Reuters

In Christophe Pelissier's first full season in charge of Lorient, the 54-year-old led the French outfit back to the big time as Les Merlus were declared champions of the abandoned 2019-20 Ligue 2 season.

With the coronavirus pandemic devastating the sporting calendar, the French football season was abruptly ended when Lorient were one point clear at the top of the table, and Pelissier's side will now enjoy top-flight action once again following a three-year absence from Ligue 1.

The league standings do not tell the full story, though, as Lorient actually lost four of their final five league games prior to the curtailment of the campaign, but 17 wins from 28 matches was enough to see Les Merlus pip second-placed Lens to the title.

Despite their underwhelming finish to the league season, Lorient managed to navigate five pre-season friendlies without defeat as they gear up for a return to the top flight, with Pelissier witnessing his side triumph over Guingamp and Concarneau either side of draws with Brest, Rennes and Angers.

Strasbourg manager Thierry Laurey pictured in February 2020© Reuters

As far as Strasbourg are concerned, Thierry Laurey would have been satisfied with a top-ten finish as his side finished above 11th-placed Angers owing to the points-per-game system.

Laurey led Strasbourg to their highest league finish for 20 years last season, and Strasbourg have now firmly established themselves as a top-flight club only four years after they were plying their trade in the third tier.

Having found themselves just three points adrift of the European places at the end of last season - with a game in hand over every side above them aside from champions Paris Saint-Germain - there ought to be some belief in the Strasbourg camp that a top-six finish could be well within their reach this time around.

An opening-day clash with a newly-promoted Lorient side may look enticing on paper, but Strasbourg are in no position to underestimate their opponents, especially given their lack of preparation over the pre-season period.

Laurey's men managed to pick up friendly victories against Nimes and Montpellier in July, but nine Strasbourg players returned positive coronavirus tests soon after the clash with the latter, and Les Coureurs did not take to the field again until August 15 where they suffered a 3-2 defeat to Metz.

Team News

Strasbourg goalkeeper Bingourou Kamara pictured in the 2019 Coupe de La Ligue final© Reuters

Lorient have recently added €9m striker Adrian Grbic to their ranks - the former Clermont man notching up 17 goals and four assists in the most recent Ligue 2 season - but Grbic has been struggling with a knee injury during pre-season.

The Austrian turned out for over an hour in the recent victory over Guingamp and has a chance of being involved in some capacity on Sunday, but fellow striker Umut Bozok will most likely spearhead the Lorient attack against Strasbourg.

Chelsea midfielder Trevoh Chalobah has joined Pelissier's side on loan for the 2020-21 campaign, but the 21-year-old is unlikely to play so soon after completing his switch across the Channel.

With regards to Strasbourg, goalkeeper Bingourou Kamara was one of the players who tested positive for COVID-19, but the Frenchman is back again and should deputise for the injured Matz Sels in between the sticks.

Laurey has confirmed that all players who returned positive tests have since made their return to the training pitch, and the Strasbourg manager is poised to name a near full-strength lineup for the opening weekend.

However, striker Lebo Mothiba is set to undergo surgery on a knee problem and is not expected to be back in action until 2021.

Lorient possible starting lineup:
Nardi; Mendes, Laporte, Fontaine, Le Goff; Lemoine, Fee; Diarra, Boisgard, Wissa; Bozok

Strasbourg possible starting lineup:
Kamara; Lala, Djiku, Simakan, Carole; Sissoko, Bellegarde, Lienard; Thomasson; Ajorque, Waris

SM words green background

We say: Lorient 1-1 Strasbourg

Both sides will be going into the new campaign with completely different expectations, but there is no reason for Lorient to believe that they cannot walk away from this game with something to show for their efforts. Last season's Ligue 2 champions enjoyed a strong pre-season and it remains to be seen how some Strasbourg players will be feeling after their recent coronavirus diagnoses, so we expect the two clubs to play out a closely-fought draw on Sunday afternoon.

Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 2.5:data


Who will win Sunday's Ligue 1 clash between Lorient and Strasbourg?

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