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Freiburg logo
Europa League | Knockout Round Playoffs | 2nd Leg
Feb 22, 2024 at 5.45pm UK
Lens logo

3 - 2

Sallai (67', 90+2'), Gregoritsch (99')
Holer (43'), Kubler (61'), Streich (66')
Costa (28'), Wahi (45+2')
Frankowski (65'), Sotoca (67'), Fulgini (95'), Medina (105+2'), Samba (120+2'), Said (120+2')

Preview: Freiburg vs. Lens - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between Freiburg and Lens, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Lens travel to the Black Forest to face Freiburg in the second leg of their Europa League playoff round tie on Thursday at Europa-Park.

The first leg ended goalless in a clash that could have gone either way but ultimately left the tie finely poised heading into the return encounter.

Match preview

Freiburg's Roland Sallai celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on September 21, 2023© Reuters

Last Thursday's stalemate saw Freiburg keep a rare clean sheet, considering they have been conceding goals for fun domestically.

Christian Streich's men have conceded three goals in four successive Bundesliga matches following a 3-3 draw against Eintracht Frankfurt at the weekend, but they restricted Lens to very little during the 90 minutes in France.

Coming from behind on three separate occasions to draw with Frankfurt could give them additional confidence ahead of this clash, as the draw at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis last midweek also ended a three-game losing streak.

While Roland Sallai had two excellent chances, being denied by the crossbar in the first half and Brice Samba in the second, it was still an all-round positive result for Freiburg.

Failing to score in Europe was something of a surprise though, considering Bayer Leverkusen were the only side to outscore them in the Europa League group stages.

That was thanks to some excellent home form, as their final two group games at Europa-Park ended in 5-0 victories, over Olympiacos and TSC Backa Topola.

If Freiburg want to at least match last season's run of reaching the last 16 though, they must end their barren run in Europe in which they have not won a knockout game since beating St Gallen back in 2001.

Lens' Massadio Haidara celebrates scoring a disallowed goal with teammates on February 15, 2024© Reuters

Lens have a similar hurdle to navigate, as their away form in Europe has been incredibly underwhelming.

Despite there being a 16-year gap between their previous European participation, they are winless in 14 away games on the continent, as much of their success in the Champions League came at home.

Therefore, Franck Haise will have been slightly disappointed they did not take advantage of the atmosphere at the Bollaert-Delelis last week, with Massadio Haidara's disallowed goal the only real moment of note they had in attack.

Lens also saw their three-game winning streak come to an end domestically at the weekend, when they were held to a 1-1 draw at Reims.

Another point continues their fine recovery from a woeful start though, as Haise's men are still just four points behind second-place Brest, despite being down in sixth.

Freiburg Europa League form:

Freiburg form (all competitions):

Lens Europa League form:

Lens form (all competitions):

Team News

RC Lens coach Franck Haise on November 29, 2023© Reuters

After missing Freiburg's last two domestic fixtures with suspension, Merlin Rohl is set to come back into the side in midfield here after also featuring in the first leg.

Japanese international Ritsu Doan has returned to the setup in fine form after the Asian Cup, winning Man of the Match in the first leg, before scoring in their 3-3 draw with Frankfurt on Sunday.

Freiburg remain without a number of important players though, most notably Matthias Ginter, who has an ankle injury, with Daniel-Kofi Kyereh and Philipp Lienhart also absent.

Haise showed how seriously he is taking the Europa League by resting a long list of first-team players for the league fixture with Reims at the weekend.

Elye Wahi, Florian Sotoca, Jonathan Gradit, Ruben Aguilar and Neil El Aynaoui were all kept on the bench, but all five could well come back into the side for the second leg.

Facundo Medina will also be available after sitting out the first leg through suspension due to picking up three bookings in the Champions League group stage.

Freiburg possible starting lineup:
Atubolu; Kubler, Keitel, Gulde, Makengo; Hofler, Eggestein, Rohl; Doan, Holer, Sallai

Lens possible starting lineup:
Samba; Gradit, Danso, Medina; Aguilar, Diouf, El Aynaoui, Frankowski; Sotoca, Wahi, Pereira da Costa

SM words green background

We say: Freiburg 1-1 Lens (1-1 a.e.t., Freiburg win on penalties)

There was very little to separate the sides in the first leg, and this has all the hallmarks of a tie that could go the distance this week.

Lens have shown stronger form domestically, but home advantage is likely to play its part in favour of Freiburg, as this appears to be one of the games most likely to be decided by a penalty shootout across all of Thursday's action.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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Group A

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Group B

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Group C

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Group D

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Group E

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Group F

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Group G

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Group H

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