Rennes should be ready to face a "Champions League level" match when they put their 13-game unbeaten run on the line against Ligue 1 Uber Eats champions Lille on Wednesday, says coach Bruno Genesio (kick-off 9pm CET).
Rennes head into the encounter at Roazhon Park riding a huge wave of form and self-confidence. Sunday's 2-0 derby victory at Lorient was their seventh success in an undefeated nine-match streak that has seen them cruise into second place ahead of Round 16.
Lille, by contrast, are winless in their last six league games, and find themselves in the bottom half of the table approaching the mid-point of the season.
Jocelyn Gourvennec's men have, however, manoeuvred themselves into a position where reaching the UEFA Champions League knockout stages will be a reality if they claim a point at Wolfsburg next Wednesday, and Genesio is on his guard.
WATCH: Rennes win at Lorient
"They're among the teams who aren't where they should be, because they deserve to have more points," explained the former Lyon coach. "They're a very good team collectively and individually. They're struggling a bit in the league right now, but you see in the big games — the Champions League notably — that they're capable of upping their game, so I know that it'll be a Champions League level against them."
Genesio looks likely to be without midfielder Flavien Tait due to a hip injury. The former Angers man was an unused substitute against Lorient, and is still troubled by the problem, leaving his boss "not very optimistic" he can feature for a side that has won their last five home league games.
"Given how we're playing right now, [second place] is deserved," said Martin Terrier, who has scored three times in his last six league outings. "We have to continue our good run. I know that when things go well, you can have a tendency to relax. We have to redouble our efforts to keep the same momentum and the vaules that are our strength."
Gourvennec is without the suspended Zeki Celik for the game, but can replace the Turkey international by shifting Tiago Djalo across to right-back with Sven Botman now fit to reclaim the centre-back role the Portugal U21 international defender has been filling in recent weeks.
Botman has missed the last six weeks with a thigh injury sustained on duty with the Netherlands U21s. But after playing 45 minutes for Lille's reserve team at the weekend while the senior side were being held to a 1-1 draw by Nantes, Botman could now feature in a Ligue 1 game for the first time since the 2-0 win in Marseille on 3 October.
"He didn't get much of a break last season, and he played at the start of this season. I hope this break will be a blessing in disguise for him," said the Breton-born Gourvennec, who is fully aware of the scale of the task against the club he played for twice.
"They've brought in Gaëtan [Laborde], who is an established Ligue 1 player now. They have very good players in the middle of the pitch with Majer, Tait, Santamaria, and also more attacking ones, the two youngsters Doku and Sulemana, and Terrier and Bourigeaud. They have a lot of options to breathe life into the team, and they have few injury problems. They have a strong squad, which has enabled them to build this momentum. They're a very good team, we know that, and we have a lot of respect for Bruno's work."
Rennes: Gomis; Truffert, Aguerd, Bade, Traore (c); Sulemana, Martin Majer, Bourigeaud; Laborde, Terrier.
Lille: Grbic; Pied (or Djalo), Fonte (c), Djalo (or Botman), Reinildo; Ikone, Andre, Onana, Bamba; Weah, Yilmaz.