Rennes will be looking to almost take Monaco "out of the running in the hunt for a Champions League place" when the high-powered pair meet in Brittany on Friday, says Bruno Genesio.
Rennes head into Round 32 in third place, three places and six points ahead of their opponents. With only the top three in France guaranteed a UEFA Champions League place for the 2022/23 season, a home win — an 11th in 13 outings at Roazhon Park — would deal a serious blow to Monaco's ambitions of featuring in European club football's elite competition next term.
"They're a direct rival that we can almost take out of the running in the hunt for a Champions League place," said Genesio, whose side nearly blew a 3-0 lead but clung on to win 3-2 at Reims last weekend. "What's important is not to focus on them, but to concentrate on ourselves, to keep moving forward and pick up points. Even if there's a lot of talk about the manner of the win, the victory at Reims was very important. We have to continue in that way, match after match. We'll see where we are afterwards and see what we can expect."
WATCH: Monaco defeat Rennes in their first meeting this season
Genesio will have to shuffle his side with Nayef Aguerd sidelined by illness while Loïc Badé and Jérémy Doku are slowly working their way back to fitness. While the Rennes back line may be weakened without Aguerd, the front line is at full strength and firing. Rennes have won six of their last seven Ligue 1 Uber Eats games, and scored a remarkable 24 goals in that run: a spectacular average of 3.4 goals per match. But Genesio is wary of a resurgent Monaco, who have won their last three.
"They're a squad that's set up to play the Champions League, with a lot of individual talent and collective quality," said the former Lyon coach. "It'll be a big game just as we have played here against Paris, Lyon, Nice and Lille. We should expect the same sort of match. We're not afraid of anyone, but they're a very competitive team."
After a stuttering start to life as Monaco boss, Philippe Clement has seen his side take an upward trajectory in recent weeks. The principality outfit has beaten struggling Metz and Troyes in their two most recent matches, but they started their winning streak with a 3-0 defeat of leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
That was their third win over a side in the top three this season, two of which have come under Clement, who remains optimistic about where his side will end the campaign.
"Everything is still possible, bar winning the title as PSG are too far ahead. All the other scenarios are possible for a lot of teams, especially qualifying for the Champions League, and not just us. There's nothing definitive as long as mathematically it's not certain," said the ex-Club Brugge boss, who replaced Niko Kovac after the winter break.
"For me, the best team in the league is the one with most points, but Rennes are certainly playing very well, are in a good spell, with an attacking style, and lots of different players are scoring goals for them. It's a style I like. I think it'll be a good game for the fans, between two teams who play to score goals. We'll have to be focussed and put in a good performance."
Rennes: Alemdar; Traoré, Omari, Santamaria, Truffert; Majer, Martin, Tait; Terrier, Laborde, Bourigeaud.
Monaco: Nübel; Aguilar, Disasi, Badiashile, Henrique; Fofana, Tchouaméni, Golovin; Jean Lucas (or Vanderson), Ben Yedder, Martins