Diaz out to seize the day for Lyon at Rennes

Ligue 1 Conforama > News

By I. Holyman

Mariano Diaz will seek to match the sky-high expectations provoked by his stunning Ligue 1 Conforama debut with Olympique Lyonnais when the seven-time champions head to Stade Rennais on Friday.

  Stade Rennais FC - Olympique Lyonnais 


The summer recruit from Real Madrid, who had scored just one goal for the Spanish giants, doubled his senior professional tally in finding the net twice in OL's Week 1 win over RC Strasbourg Alsace.

"I'm very happy. It was my first game as a starter at this level. That's going to allow me to look forward to the future with more optimism and confidence. I was under a bit of pressure, but it was above all the desire to score. Even if I scored two, the pressure is still there. I don't want to fail to meet expectations now.

"But I mustn't only score. I also have to play well, battle, try to win possession to help the team," said the 24-year-old forward, who was born in Barcelona to Dominican parents and feels ready to shoulder the added responsibility of being a first-team regular.

"That's what I wanted. I came here to play and to take that on. I want to have a role to play. I have to experience this new dimension with calm and keep my feet on the ground."

WATCH: Mariano and Lyon make a super start

That may be difficult if he and his team-mates follow up their 4-0 opening-game triumph with another maximum points haul allied to a goal-filled display in Brittany, improving on a poor record of just one win from their last four visits to Roazhon Park.

The manner in which Mariano clicked alongside fellow newboy Bertrand Traoré, January addition Memphis Depay and a rejuvenated Nabil Fekir, who also scored twice, promises much and soothed Lyon fans' fears they may struggle to replace Alexandre Lacazette. Coach Bruno Genesio, however, is not getting swept away in the euphoria just yet.

Genesio: 'More balance needed'

"It's just the first match and I don't want to draw premature conclusions. We were more compact and balanced than in the pre-season friendlies. The idea was to be solid defensively as our defence was what stopped us being in the top three last season," explained Genesio, who saw his team strike three times after the break at Parc OL.

"We scored 114 goals in all competitions but we were too unbalanced and left too much space between the lines. We put the accent on correcting that, but this was only a first game."

Genesio's Rennes counterpart, Christian Gourcuff, was no doubt telling his squad — ninth last season — the same thing, though for different reasons as they started their campaign with a stumbling 1-1 draw at newly-promoted ESTAC Troyes.

WATCH: Rennes stutter to point at Troyes

The Breton club's trip to the Champagne region could have fallen flatter still had Jordan Tell, a summer signing from SM Caen, not found the net on his debut for his new club to earn the Red-and-Blacks a point.

"We had a lot of chances and dominated possession. I expected us to show more control and we weren't up to scratch defensively," said Gourcuff, who gave new signing Ismaïla Sarr a debut.

"Going forward, we needed to do things quicker and we should have made more of a difference physically. We're aspiring to be better and we need to be better than that if we are to play a role in this championship."

Probable teams

Rennes: Diallo; Traoré, Mexer, Gnagnon, Bensebiani; Mubele, Bourigeaud, Andre (c), Baal; Tell, Sarr

Lyon: Lopes; Rafael, Marcelo, Morel (c), Marçal; Tousart, Darder; Traoré, Fekir, Depay; Mariano Diaz

>> PRE-MATCH STATS: Rennes v Lyon

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