Stade Rennais have had a tough start to their UEFA Champions League group stage debut — ligue1.com picks apart the Breton side's first two performances among the European elite.
Let's start with the positives.
"We're going to learn a lot from this match," Julien Stéphan said of the 1-0 loss to Sevilla on Matchday 2. One thing we learned is that Alfred Gomis can fill the gloves of Edouard Mendy. Solid in the Matchday 1 draw with Krasnodar, Gomis was incredible on his second appearance in the UEFA Champions League. "Alfred kept us in the game for a long time," noted Clément Grenier of the team's number one, who made no fewer than eight saves to at least give his team a chance of taking something from their trip to Andalusia.
That would have been an unexpected souvenir to take home with them following a largely disappointing performance, but there were mitigating factors in the loss in Spain. Steven Nzonzi's late suspension for the game against his former club was hugely prejudicial to Rennes' chances, and the loss of Eduardo Camavinga to injury was a double blow that few clubs would have been able to cope with.
It left Jonas Martin to play a defensive midfield role, which is hardly his preferred position nor even one he has played much - if at all - during his career. Against a side of the quality of Sevilla, the reigning UEFA Europa League champions, that was always going to be make life tough for both the former Montpeliler and Strasbourg man, and his team.
As much as the overall performance in Spain was below-par, the Matchday 1 display against Krasnodar showed Rennes they can match opponents at this level. They had 20 attempts at goal against the Russian outfit, that's the most of any Champions League debutant since Manchester City in September 2011. The one regret will be that they did not take any of the chances they created to win that game, and dropped two points as the result of a fantastic individual strike.
You could see Jérémy Doku producing a moment of individual brilliance for Rennes at some stage. Making his first UEFA Champions League start against Sevilla, he showed in one devastating first-half burst that he has the pace to terrify any defence at any level. The 18-year-old is a raw but hugely talented player, and the Belgium international will surely only improve playing at this level.
The same goes for Camavinga, whose first-half against Krasnodar must go down as one of the most impressive competition bows. The teenager has immense and undoubted talent, but he faded in the second half as you might expect of a 17-year-old at this level. Better though is to come.
And then there is creating chances. "It's not good when you're only talking about a goalkeeper. In the Champions League, you need a striker, a goalscorer too," said Louis Saha on TV after the Sevilla defeat, praising Gomis but worrying about the sharp end of the Rennes side.
Serhou Guirassy has not had a chance to reproduce his excellent Ligue 1 form on the continental stage, because service has been in very short supply. He tucked away the penalty for Rennes' first-ever Champions League goal, he might have had another, but the summer arrival from Amiens did not get a sniff in Spain.
He — and Stéphan's side — will need more creativity in the final third in the upcoming back-to-back meetings with Chelsea, because, in keeping with their brave strategic approach to their opening two matches in the competition, they will now need to score goals and win games if they are to have a hope of reaching the knockout stages or claiming third place in the group to go into the UEFA Europa League.