With Martin Terrier facing a long spell on the sidelines after suffering a serious knee injury, will Jérémy Doku step up for Stade Rennais FC to fill the sizeable gap left by the absence of their top scorer?
Clermont Foot 63 – Stade Rennais FC Wednesday at 1900 CET (1800 GMT)
Rennes suffered a huge blow when they lost Terrier to a ruptured cruciate ligament in his right knee during their 2-1 win over OGC Nice in their last Ligue 1 Uber Eats outing on January 9, an injury that has ruled the 25-year-old out for the rest of the season.
Terrier had earlier put the Brittany side in front in that game with his 12th goal of the season in all competitions, and his ninth in the league. His excellent form at the start of this campaign came after he netted 21 times in the league last season, a tally bettered only by Kylian Mbappé and Wissam Ben Yedder.
Nominated for the Ligue 1 Player of the Year prize for last season, Terrier could also count himself unlucky not to be included in the France squad for the World Cup, but now Rennes need to find a way of coping without their leading marksman as they look to challenge for a top-three finish and a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League.
In their first game without Terrier, Rennes won 2-1 away to second-tier high-fliers Girondins de Bordeaux in the last 64 of the Coupe de France last weekend, with Doku scoring the crucial goal after Benjamin Bourigeaud had earlier put them in front. Their reward for advancing to the next round was a tie away to Olympique de Marseille, but now Rennes return to league action with all eyes on coach Bruno Genesio and who he selects in attack against Clermont at the Stade Gabriel-Montpied.
Watch: Rennes overcome Terrier loss to beat Nice
Doku and Bourigeaud flanked Amine Gouiri in the front line against Bordeaux, as Genesio reverted to a 4-3-3 formation. Arnaud Kalimuendo will hope to return to the starting line-up in Auvergne, while Gouiri will expect to keep his place. He has scored eight goals this season, more than anyone else in the Rennes squad after Terrier.
Left-winger Doku, meanwhile, started for just the second time this season in the Cup tie. The 20-year-old, whose time in France has been blighted by injuries, is fresh and eager to put behind him a disappointing World Cup, when he made just one appearance off the bench as Belgium went out in the group stage. There is the sense that Rennes are still waiting to see anything close to the best of a player who arrived from Anderlecht for a reported €26 million in October 2020.
“It is not possible to find a replacement for Martin,” said Genesio when asked if Rennes might make a move for a new forward in the January transfer window. “There are two ways of looking at things. Either we try to find the player who corresponds with what Martin did, or we say to ourselves that we also have players available to us who have not played a lot for different reasons and who can provide cover with different styles.”
Clermont’s Cup shocker
Ghanaian prospect Kamaldeen Sulemana and the 17-year-old Désiré Doué are other attacking options for Rennes, who come into the midweek round of games in fourth place in the table, two points adrift of Marseille in third. They have lost just one of their last 13 league outings.
Meanwhile, Clermont are on the rebound from a shock Coupe de France exit at the weekend, when they lost on penalties away to sixth-tier amateur regional league minnows FC Olympique Strasbourg Koenigshoffen 06. Coach Pascal Gastien’s decision to change most of his starting line-up following their 1-0 win away to Olympique Lyonnais on New Year’s Day backfired badly in Alsace as Clermont succumbed in a shoot-out after being held 0-0 in 90 minutes.
Watch: Clermont stun Lyon
“We could have made it back-to-back wins, which would have been great. Anyway now we will try to at least win back-to-back league games,” said Gastien. “Let’s see if we can show a reaction after this disappointment.”
Clermont, who recently inaugurated a new stand to increase capacity at the Stade Gabriel-Montpied to over 13,000, currently sit an impressive ninth in the table despite going six league games without a win prior to their victory at Lyon. Baptiste Santamaria is also out long-term for Rennes, while Portuguese midfielder Xeka is sidelined with an ankle injury suffered against Bordeaux.
Clermont: Diaw; Seidu, Wieteska, Caufriez; Allevinah, Gastien, Magnin (c), Borges; Rashani, Khaoui; Kyei
Rennes: Mandanda; Traoré (c), Omari, Theate, Truffert; Bourigeaud, Majer, Tait, Doku; Kalimuendo, Gouiri