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Apr 18, 2021 at 2pm UK

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Preview: Reims vs. Metz - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Reims vs. Metz - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Sunday's Ligue 1 clash between Reims and Metz, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Reims take on Metz in Ligue 1 on Sunday, with the visitors looking to prevent a run of three consecutive defeats becoming four.

The home team, meanwhile, are on an unbeaten run of eight matches, and can leapfrog their forthcoming opponents with a victory as well as potentially moving into the top half of the table depending on results elsewhere.

Match preview

It should be noted that 75% of Reims' eight-match unbeaten run has consisted of draws, but it has still been an impressive spell of results from David Guion's side.

One of the most successful clubs in France during the 1950s and 1960s, twice losing to Real Madrid in the European Cup final during that era, Reims were in Ligue 2 as recently as 2018.

However, having been sixth at the time last season was curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the club had another stab at Europe this campaign.

It did not last very long, though, as they fell to a penalty shootout defeat to Hungarian outfit Fehervar in the third qualifying round of the Europa League.

Guion may have felt that this would allow his side to flourish domestically once again, but a difficult start to the campaign put paid to those ambitions.

Their recent unbeaten run has afforded them an opportunity of finishing in the top half again at least, though, with a win against Metz on Sunday guaranteed to take them into the top half providing Angers do not beat Rennes on Saturday.

Metz, meanwhile, appear to be on the opposite trajectory to their forthcoming opponents, having began the season in blistering form before significantly dropping off in recent times.

Frederic Antonetti's side coped remarkably well with losing their key forward Ibrahima Niane, who remains the club's top league goalscorer despite having not played since October, to a season-ending ACL injury early in the campaign, with a Europa League qualification position having looked firmly within reach during the winter months.

However, their generally solid defence has slipped in recent weeks, with Metz conceding two or more goals in each of their last four league games, which has contributed towards them only taking one point from a possible 15.

Admittedly, it has been a tough run of fixtures, with league leaders Lille comfortably dispatching them by two goals to nil last time out.

Antonetti's side had chances across the game, testing Lille's goalkeeper Mike Maignan on seven separate occasions, but the visitors showed their ruthlessness with two second-half strikes from Burak Yilmaz and Zeki Celik condemning Metz to a third successive defeat.

They will be hoping to get the show back on the road at Reims on Sunday.

Reims Ligue 1 form:
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • D

Metz Ligue 1 form:
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • L

Metz form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • L

Team News

Reims could be without their top goalscorer Boulaye Dia after the forward was substituted at half time of their defeat to Lille due to an ankle injury.

El Bilal Toure replaced him and will be hoping to do so from the start against Metz should Dia be ruled out. Valon Berisha is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury.

Metz, meanwhile, also remain without their top goalscorer Niane, who will almost certainly not recover from his ACL injury in time to feature again this season.

Vincent Pajot, Warren Tchimbembe and Manuel Cabit are also all ruled out for the rest of the campaign with Achilles tendon, meniscus and leg injuries respectively.

Opa Nguette, Kevin N'Doram and Marc-Aurele Caillard should all return to first-team action at some point in April, but it is unlikely to be in time to face Reims as Antonetti deals with a serious availability crisis while attempting to overturn his side's recent poor form.

Reims possible starting lineup:
Rajkovic; Foket, Faes, Abdelhamid, Konan; Cafaro, Munetsi, Chavalerin; Mbuku, Toure, Doumbia

Metz possible starting lineup:
Oukidja; Bronn, Kouyate, Boye; Centonze, Sarr, Maiga, Udol; Gueye, Leya, Boulaya

We say: Reims 1-0 Metz

With Metz still missing several key players, we can envisage Reims edging a tight encounter to leapfrog their opponents in the table.

The fitness of Dia, who has scored 14 goals for Reims in Ligue 1 this season, will undoubtedly have a huge influence on the result in what is likely to be a low-scoring affair.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or draw 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.Home/Draw:data

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