Montpellier vs Sunderland Preview: Ligue 1 side to provide stern top-flight test for Black Cats

David Moyes' men will face off in their fifth pre-season game against Montpellier tomorrow at 5PM, with the Premier League season creeping ever closer.

Montpellier vs Sunderland Preview: Ligue 1 side to provide stern top-flight test for Black Cats
John O'Shea and Sebastian Larsson have joined up with their team-mates after taking part in Euro 2016. (Photo: Sunderland AFC)

David Moyes will look to continue his side's 100% win rate in pre-season tomorrow evening, as his Sunderland side face a tough test against top-flight opposition in the form of Ligue 1 outfit Montpellier.

Moyes' side continued to show promising signs both fitness and performance wise in their last game against Dijon FCO, with Jan Kirchhoff completing his first 90 minutes of pre-season in the 3-2 win.

Sunderland showing encouraging signs in pre-season

Frédéric Hantz's side finished in 12th position in the 2015/16 Ligue 1 season, and won their first title in 2011/12, when they shocked the division to pip Paris Saint-Germain to the Ligue 1 title as the now Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud found the net 21 times in the league.

Sunderland's pre-season so far has heralded vastly improved performances and results when compared to the jet setting schedule that saw the club fly to America last season, which was a decision that left the team severely lacking fitness come the beginning of the Premier League season.

Wins against Hartlepool, Rotherham, Stade Nyonnais and most recently Dijon sees Sunderland maintain a flawless winning record thus far, which is something that will certainly breed confidence in the side, even if results are not vital at this stage of the club's preparations.

In addition to the winning record seen in pre-season, various players from the youth setup have been given run outs in several games. With 17-year-old Swedish striker Joel Asoro arguably impressing the most after he scored one and created another in the last game against Dijon.

Although Sunderland have played four matches in pre-season, captain John O'Shea and Sebastian Larsson are yet to appear for the club after taking part in Euro 2016 for the Republic of Ireland and Sweden respectively; meaning that they have joined the club's pre-season schedule much later than their team-mates.

This will likely mean that they are in line for an appearance in tomorrow's game, but one man who will not be making any more appearances over the remainder of pre-season is Jermain Defoe. He is currently sidelined with a thigh problem but is expected to return in time for the opening game of the Premier League season on August 13.

Boudebouz was one of the few shining lights for Montpellier last season. (Photo: Eurosport)
Boudebouz was one of the few shining lights for Montpellier last season. (Photo: Eurosport)

A brief view of the opposition

The main man to watch from Montpellier's perspective is 26-year-old Algerian playmaker Ryad Boudebouz, who scored twice and created 11 goals last season for La Paillade, mainly playing in the number 10 role.

Manager Hantz took over at the club in January 2016, at a time when they were occupying 18th place in Ligue 1 after a poor first half of the campaign under the management of Bruno Martini. He eventually led the club to a mid-table finish as they secured 12th spot, turning their fortunes around in a similar, although less dramatic fashion to that of Sam Allardyce's Sunderland.

The fixture will be Montpellier's third of their pre-season schedule, with their record being one loss and one win against Toulouse and Clermont respectively. After tomorrow's game against Sunderland, they will face Real Betis on August 6 before their Ligue 1 opener against Angers eight days later.

They will likely pose the biggest threat that the Wearsiders have encountered during pre-season so far with the most stern test of course coming on August 5 against Borussia Dortmund, who most recently lost on penalties to Sunderland's first Premier League opponent this season, Manchester City, after drawing 1-1 in regulation time.