Turbulent times for Rennes and Valenciennes
By D. Crossan
After a turbulent week, Rennes host Valenciennes on Friday evening and the injury-hit visitors are keen to put their 4-0 midweek home loss to Paris Saint-Germain behind them.
Stade Rennais FC - Valenciennes FC
Influential midfielder Gaël Danic - joint-top assists provider in Ligue 1 with six - fractured his fibular in that game as VAFC suffered their first home defeat of the season and could be out for two months. Coach Daniel Sanchez had rotated his squad for the Nancy game in Week 16 in order to target the glamorous match-up with PSG. Despite Sanchez's bold game-plan, VAFC succumbed 4-0 as Zlatan Ibrahimovic plundered his first hat-trick in the French game.
Valenciennes have managed five points from their last five games, halting the momentum provided by three wins in their previous four fixtures. Sanchez said: "In a short space of time we have suffered three serious injuries to Mody Traoré, Abdou Camara and now Gaël Danic. It's becoming difficult squad-wise. We mustn't be traumatised by the PSG defeat and we have to move on to something else. It's not because we lost that game that we should call everything into question.
Sanchez: "Possible to reach 30 points by winter break"
"The loss must make us have more desire to go and get a result at Rennes, who are a dangerous attacking side. We are capable of getting a result and it's still possible for us to reach 30 points by the winter break, which would be magnificent."
Both Valenciennes and Rennes have 26 points but VAFC have the better goal difference (+8 to +1). VAFC have a dangerous attack of their own and have scored 29 goals in 17 matches. The only away game in which Sanchez's men failed to notch on their travels this season was the 1-0 defeat at Saint-Etienne in Week 14.
Rennes coach Frédéric Antonetti was furious on Tuesday evening as his side went down 1-0 to Nice. The visitors had already had Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik sent off for a second yellow card for a foul on Dario Cvitanich in the 53rd minute. Twelve minutes later sub Yassine Jebbour was dismissed after conceding a penalty for a foul on Nice sub Eric Bauthéac. Cvitanich converted from the spot. Antonetti said afterwards: "The cheats won and that disgusts me. Winning like that doesn't interest me."
Jebbour red card v Nice rescinded
Kana-Biyik is suspended for the Valenciennes game but Jebbour is available after his red card was rescinded by the LFP's Disciplinary Commission on Thursday. Speaking before that news broke, Antonetti said: "I maintain my comments and I'm not taking any word off the record. I analysed the match the way it happened. They were simulating and the referee let himself be conned. We're the club that has committed the fewest fouls this season, we've had the fewest yellow cards  and there have been seven reds for us. Only one of them was undisputable."
John Boye and Jean II Makoun (thigh) are both out and the game comes too soon for Abdoulaye Sané (hamstring). Rennes are a bit short defensively, heightening rumours in the French sports press that Ghanaian international defender John Mensah, who has been training at the club to stay in shape, could be set for a second spell in Brittany.
Rennes, like Valenciennes, are in need of a result to get themselves moving again before the winter break. Rennes had won seven league games in nine before they allowed a two-nil lead to slip at home to Brest in the 2-2 draw in Week 16.