Girondins de Bordeaux head to Brittany to face Stade Rennais FC on Sunday after coming through a turbulent last week buoyed by two very significant victories on the pitch as they look to move on from the Thierry Henry saga.
Stade Rennais FC - Girondins de Bordeaux
For several days it looked as though the former AS Monaco and Arsenal forward, France's all-time leading scorer, was set to take his first managerial role at Bordeaux, before the news broke at the beginning of this week that Henry had finally decided to reject the offer.
That news punctured the growing mood of optimism among fans of the six-time champions, and has left Les Girondinsstill looking for a new coach to replace Gustavo Poyet, with the Uruguayan being suspended in the wake of a very public disagreement with the club's hierarchy over transfers.
Bordeaux now go into their final game before the international break with Éric Bedouet still in temporary charge, and there is little reason to rush an appointment given how results under the interim coach have improved since a 2-1 reverse in the Garonne derby in Toulouse in his first match.
He oversaw Bordeaux's first Ligue 1 Conforama win of the campaign at the third attempt last weekend, with François Kamano scoring in stoppage time - his second goal of the game - to secure a 2-1 victory over AS Monaco at the Matmut Atlantique. And Bedouet's men then built on that on Thursday as they defeated Belgian side KAA Gent 2-0 in front of 35,000 fans to qualify for the group stage of the UEFA Europa League, with Kamano again on target before a Jimmy Briand penalty secured the victory.
Watch: Kamano strikes late as Bordeaux beat Monaco
"Congratulations to the players. I want to bring everyone together, Gustavo Poyet and Tano Tarrico," Bedouet said, with a mention for the Uruguayan and the man who has been his assistant. "They started us off, so I dedicate our qualification to them. It belongs to them as well. The players have evolved since Toulouse. There have been modifications, improvements, and there was real progress against Monaco."
Sunday's game will also be a special occasion for Bordeaux goalkeeper Benoît Costil, who returns to face the club he represented between 2011 and 2017 with morale boosted following his recall to the France squad. Having been left out for the triumphant World Cup campaign in Russia, the 31-year-old returns for the upcoming UEFA Nations League matches against Germany and the Netherlands as a replacement for the injured Steve Mandanda.
Costil back in France squad, Niang in at Rennes
Bordeaux will need Costil to be on his best form at Roazhon Park, with the Brittany side promising to be tough opponents despite something of a mixed start to the campaign - Rennes have four points from three Ligue 1 Conforama outings.
Sabri Lamouchi's men were beaten 3-1 in Lille on the opening weekend but since then they have beaten Angers SCO 1-0 at home thanks to a superb late goal by Ismaïla Sarr before holding Olympique de Marseille to a 2-2 draw at the Orange Vélodrome last time out. That said, Rennes could not avoid a feeling of some disappointment at the end of tha game, having been 2-0 up at the interval.
Watch: Rennes denied by Marseille fightback
"It was a great performance against OM, although they were not all that dangerous. Now we need to build on it when we play Bordeaux," said Lamouchi, whose side will represent France in the Europa League group stage along with Marseille and Les Girondins.
Building a squad capable of competing at home and in Europe has kept Rennes busy over the summer, and they have been working to bring new faces in right up until Friday's transfer deadline.
The arrival of M'Baye Niang, a Senegal international teammate of Sarr, from Torino on a loan deal comes as a big boost to Lamouchi's attacking options. The 23-year-old was born in France and started his career at SM Caen, but he departed for AC Milan in 2012 and has not played in Ligue 1 since a loan spell at Montpellier Hérault SC in 2014. If things go well for him under Lamouchi, Rennes could end up making the move permanent.
Rennes: (To follow)
Bordeaux: (To follow)