Nantes v Lens: Preview
Nantes boss Michel Der Zakarian feels Lens counterpart Antoine Kombouare will have a ``warrior spirit'' instilled at the northern club and that their problems over the last few months will only see them approach the new Ligue 1 season with additional motivation.
Lens have had a difficult time since finishing second in Ligue 2 last term, with their promotion to the top-flight only rubber-stamped on appeal after it was initially prevented for a failure to provide sufficient financial guarantees.
The decision to permit their accession to the top-flight came with stringent financial sanctions and Lens are banned from signing new players until owner Hafiz Mammadov fulfils his commitment to inject funds into the club.
On Friday - the day before their Ligue 1 campaign starts with a trip to Nantes - Lens announced they had reached a deal with Amiens that will allow them to use the third-tier side's ground for home games this season.
It all adds up to a less-than-ideal-looking period of preparation over the summer, but Der Zakarian, quoted on www.rclens.fr, said at his pre-match press conference: ``I think the turbulent off-season for Lens is not going to interfere.
``Instead, it will be an additional source of motivation for them.''
Der Zakarian, whose side finished 13th in Ligue 1 last season, knows Kombouare well, having played with him for Nantes.
And he added: ``I know Antoine Kombouare has fight in him and that he will back his troops.
``Lens will be ready to face us and they will not let anything drop from beginning to end.
``In addition to this warrior spirit they have, Lens are a team that will go on the attack very quickly, that have good collective control, and that have tall players - we must therefore be vigilant on set pieces.
``Antoine and I trained together and we played together.
``He is a charming man that I greatly appreciate. He is a warrior and a good leader.
``He instils values of combat wherever he goes and has got results at all the clubs he has led.
``I'm sure he and his players will be very well prepared for the first day of the championship.''