Hexagoal Ligue 1 Trophy

Mitroglou defended by coach and Rolando

Publish on 13/01/2018 at 00:00 - S. WILLIS


Olympique de Marseille travel to Rennes on Saturday with plenty of question marks hanging over star attacking recruit Kostas Mitroglou.

Stade Rennais FC - Olympique de Marseille

The scorer of two Ligue 1 Conforama goals in nine appearances since his summer arrival from Benfica, Mitoglou was booed off by sections of the Orange Vélodrome when he was replaced last Sunday on the hour against Valenciennes in the Coupe de France round of 64, a game OM ended up winning 1-0 against second-tier opposition thanks to Jordan Amavi's extra-time goal.

The Greek international forward, signed for 15 million euros from Portugal at the end of the summer transfer window, has yet to look like the man to replace Bafétimbi Gomis' 20 Ligue 1 Conforama goals from last season. The 29-year-old was defended by centre-half Rolando: "It's difficult when you arrive at a club you don't know and when you need to learn the language. He joined injured. He needs to get his confidence back and he knows what he's got to do. When he starts scoring goals again he'll forget all the bad moments."

Garcia: "He's dependent on the players playing alongside him"

Mitorglou played alongside Valère Germain last Sunday in an atypical 4-4-2 that didn't convince. Coach Rudi Garcia commented: "When you play with a penalty-box centre-forward you need to be capable of getting the ball to them. In the last match he only had one good ball and he didn't use it well. He's dependent on the players who play alongside him. Supplying him with good service isn't something we do well enough all the time."

Rolando backed the former Olympiakos hitman to come good in the French game: "He's a lad who doesn't speak too much and he prefers to stay in his corner. I know him pretty well and I know he can score at any given moment. He's calm, though he knows he can do better. It's taking him time to adapt and it's not easy but we know he'll end up scoring goals."

Rennes come into the game on a high after beating Toulouse 4-2 on Wednesday to reach the semi-finals of the Coupe de la Ligue, where they'll host Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the month. The Toulouse success helped erase the pain of the 6-1 loss to PSG in the Coupe de France round of 64 last Sunday.

Lamouchi on Sarr: "I liked his performance off the bench"

Sabri Lamouchi's men were boosted by Ismaïla Sarr's return to action off the bench against Toulouse after three-and-a-half months out with an Achilles problem. Lamouchi said: "I liked his performance off the bench. We can see that when this lad touches the ball that something happens. He's a creative player and he's fast. He's an extra weapon for us."

The TFC success brought to an end a run of three straight defeats to PSG (twice) and Monaco in all competitions since Rennes saw off OM on penalties in the round of 16 of the Coupe de la Ligue in mid-December. Lucas Ocampos and Bouna Sarr were the OM players to miss in that shootout, while Jérémy Gélin failed to find the back of the net for Rennes in a 4-3 success from the spot.

Probable Teams:

Rennes: Diallo; Traoré, Gélin, Mexer, Bensebaini; André, Lea-Siliki; Bourigeaud, Hunou, Sarr; Khazri (c)

Marseille: Mandanda; Sarr, Rami, Rolando, Sakai; Luiz Gustavo, Sanson; Thauvin, Payet (c), Ocampos; Germain