Opposition guide: Get to know RC Lens

Wednesday 02 August 2023 15:24

Manchester United's penultimate pre-season friendly in our preparations for 2023/24 will see French outfit RC Lens visit Old Trafford on Saturday.

Erik ten Hag's Reds will come up against the Ligue 1 runners-up at the Theatre of Dreams, with kick-off at 12:45 BST in a game that will also be screened live on MUTV.

Get to know United’s next opponents a bit more in just a few short minutes with our guide…


The club exceeded expectations to finish second in Ligue 1 in 2022/23, finishing just a solitary point behind champions Paris Saint-Germain after losing just four of their 38 league games. In doing so, they will join United in the Champions League group stage and it’s only the third time they have qualified for Europe’s premier competition in their history after 1998/99 and 2002/03. Meanwhile, in the Coupe de France, which is France's main cup competition, they reached the quarter-finals, where they lost 2-1 to eventual winners of the trophy Nantes.

However, since then, they have lost two of their star players as 19-goal top scorer Lois Openda has made a big-money move to German outfit RB Leipzig and their captain Seko Fofana has moved to Saudi Arabia, with the Ivorian midfielder linking up with former United star Cristiano Ronaldo at Al Nassr.


It’s been a busy period for Lens, who are unbeaten in the five fixtures they have been involved in so far. They began with a 4-4 draw against newly-promoted Ligue 2 outfit Dunkerque, before being held to a 2-2 draw by another second-division outfit in Amiens. Their first victory came by a 3-0 scoreline against third-tier Sochaux before Dijon, who were relegated from Ligue 2 last term, were beaten 2-0.

They then travelled to Germany last weekend where they drew 1-1 with Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg. On Wednesday night (2 August), they will play their only friendly at their Stade Bollaert-Delelis home when Italian top-flight outfit Torino provide the opposition. Their weekend trip to Old Trafford is set to be their final warm-up game before opening their Ligue 1 campaign away to Brest on Sunday 13 August.


Between the sticks, Brice Samba helped Nottingham Forest to earn promotion to the Premier League before ending his three-year spell at the City Ground to join Lens last summer. The 29-year-old Congolese-born stopper kept the most clean sheets in Ligue 1 last season with 15 and was named the division’s Goalkeeper of the Year. He even earned his first call-up to the France senior national team back in March.

Another player who may be familiar to some United fans is Massadio Haidara, who spent five years with Newcastle before departing in 2018. The French-born Mali international has been with Lens ever since and the left-back was a mainstay in the side last term, appearing in 36 of their 38 league matches. At the age of 30, his experience will be vital on the European stage throughout 2023/24.

Haidara played at Old Trafford during his time in the Premier League with the Magpies.

Fellow defender Facundo Medina is a team-mate of Lisandro Martinez and Alejandro Garnacho with the senior Argentina team. The 6ft powerhouse chipped in with three goals last season - including a spectacular volley against Strasbourg - and his performances earned him a contract extension until 2026, which he signed back in January. Medina has many strings to his bow, mainly as a left-sided centre-back but also as a left-back in a four-man defence. He has proved his ability to get forward from both positions and use the ball effectively in the final third.

Przemyslaw Frankowski is a tricky winger who has excelled since arriving in France two years ago from MLS side Chicago Fire. The 28-year-old has become a regular for his country Poland and contributed five goals in all competitions for Lens last term, while his crossing ability caused plenty of problems for opposition defences throughout the campaign.

Andy Diouf will be one to watch after the France Under-21 international became the club’s record signing after joining from Basel on a five-year deal this summer. The exciting young midfielder was instrumental in Basel’s run to the UEFA Conference League semi-finals in 2022/23, scoring three goals and he was named the competition’s best young player for last season.

Franck Haise was appointed Lens boss in 2020.


Our opponents are led by Franck Haise, who has been at the helm at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis since February 2020. After guiding the club to the brink of the Ligue 1 title last term, he was named the division’s Manager of the Year for 2022/23. The 52-year-old, who was a midfielder during his 16-year playing career in France, had only previously managed one professional team, Lorient, before taking up the reins at Lens.


Tickets are still available to watch the game at Old Trafford, priced from just £20 for adults and £10 for children. Click here to get yours now.

But if you are unable to attend, you can see the action unfold live on MUTV via the club channel, our United App and ManUtd.com. Click here to subscribe now.