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Rennes look to upset PSG as race for Europe heats up

Rennes look to upset PSG as race for Europe heats up

Publish on 03/17 at 03:09 - A. SCOTT


Stade Rennais FC have been something of a bête noire for Paris Saint-Germain in recent seasons and are hoping for a positive result on their trip to the capital on Sunday as they chase European qualification for next season.

Paris Saint-Germain – Stade Rennais FC Sunday at 17:05 CET (1605 GMT)


Just two months have passed since these clubs last met in a Ligue 1 Uber Eats clash in Brittany. Rennes  emerged 1-0 winners at Roazhon Park on January 15 with Hamari Traoré scoring the only goal of the game as the season belatedly reached its halfway stage following the lengthy pause for the World Cup.

A lot has changed since that night, when PSG’s defeat left them just three points clear at the top of the table from Lens. Christophe Galtier’s side have since been eliminated from both the UEFA Champions League and the Coupe de France, leaving them with just their defence of the Ligue 1 Uber Eats title to focus on. Their lead at the top of the table, meanwhile, has increased to a surely insurmountable 10 points.

Rennes, meanwhile, are hanging on to a European place. They sit fifth, just a point better off than LOSC Lille in sixth. If the Brittany club stay where they are, they will be in the Europa Conference League next season. They ended last weekend four points behind AS Monaco in fourth, which is a Europa League place.

Watch: Rennes held by struggling Auxerre

Since beating PSG, Bruno Génésio’s Rennes have also been knocked out of both the domestic Cup and European competition, going out of the Europa League on penalties to Shakhtar Donetsk in the knockout round play-offs. Their league form has been worryingly inconsistent, with three wins, a draw and four defeats in their last eight games.

Last week’s 0-0 draw away to relegation-threatened AJ Auxerre means they have won just one of their last seven away league outings. “We didn’t concede a goal. We have been more solid defensively in recent games which is worth noting, so there are certain reasons to be satisfied,” said Génésio after that game in Burgundy, before admitting: “We didn’t play like a team competing at the top of the table.”

PSG’s defensive injury worries

Maybe a meeting with the champions and league leaders will bring out the best in Rennes. They have won three and drawn one of their last four home meetings with PSG, and also defeated the capital club on penalties in the 2019 Coupe de France final. In addition, Rennes have won three times at the Parc des Princes in the last decade, and Génésio - with five - has more wins against PSG since the Qatar takeover of 2011 than any other coach.

Perhaps that will provide the Parisians with some extra incentive to get up for this game. That might be welcome, as Christophe Galtier’s side are still digesting their European exit and appear in little danger of being caught at the top of the table.

Watch: Mbappé scores late winner at Brest

That defeat in Rennes came during a shaky start to 2023, but their domestic form has improved in recent weeks. PSG  have won their last four league outings, although they needed a last-minute Kylian Mbappé goal to secure a 2-1 victory away to Stade Brestois 29 in Brittany last weeked. Carlos Soler had earlier put the visitors in front only for Franck Honorat to equalise for Brest.

“We had to remobilise everyone but we have a very important French record to go after in the shape of an 11th national title,” Galtier said of the Brest win, which came just three days after PSG’s Champions League exit against Bayern Munich. “There is no such thing as a little victory.”

PSG are without Neymar Jr. and Presnel Kimpembe as they recover from injury, and Galtier has serious defensive issues with Sergio Ramos, Marquinhos, Nordi Mukiele and Achraf Hakimi all fitness concerns just now. Rennes are without top scorer Martin Terrier, a long-term injury victim, while Jérémy Doku and Warmed Omari missed last week’s game at Auxerre due to injury and suspension respectively.

Possible teams

Paris Saint-Germain: Donnarumma; Pembélé, Danilo Pereira, Bitshiabu, Nuno Mendes; Vitinha, Verratti, Fabián Ruiz; Messi, Ekitiké, Mbappé (c)

Rennes: Mandanda; Traoré (c), Omari, Theate, Truffert; Majer, Santamaria, Tait; Bourigeaud, Kalimuendo, Gouiri


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