Rennes face LOSC test
By D. Crossan
Two of France's European hopefuls meet on Sunday when Rennes host LOSC in Ligue 1 Conforama.
Neither Rennes nor LOSC managed to win in Europe in midweek, with Rennes held to a 1-1 draw by Celtic in the Europa League and LOSC falling 3-0 at Ajax in the Champions League. Rennes enter Week 6 of the league season second only to champions Paris Saint-Germain with LOSC a point back and three places lower in fifth.
Rennes have a good recent record at home to LOSC, undefeated against their opponents from the north in nine games, winning five times and drawing on four occasions, since falling 2-1 in February 2010.
Stéphan: "We're in the process of rebuilding"
Rennes coach Julien Stéphan was realistic following his team's share of the points with Celtic at Roazhon Park. Stéphan said: "It wasn't a controlled match from us and it was a game where you could tell we're in the process of rebuilding, with a lot of new players to bed in. Those players arrived late in the transfer window and six major players left us. We need to find our marks on a collective bass and that will happen through playing games. We were up against experienced opposition and we didn't manage to open the space up and gave them the chance to come back."
LOSC's display in Amsterdam was a mixed bag, as evidenced by Ajax goalkeeper André Onana putting in a man-of-the-match display for last season's semi-finalists. Of particular interest to the French press was the performance of Renato Sanches, 22, signed for 20 million euros from Bayern Munich in the summer transfer window.
Galtier: "Be indulgent with Renato"
Of the Euro 2016 champion with Portugal, Galtier said: "People need to be indulgent with Renato. He's just joined and he hasn't played much. He needs to find his rhythm and get on the same wavelength as his team-mates. But I'm sure he'll find a very good level."
Last season's runners-up in the league are in desperate need of improving their away form; while LOSC have won their last seven home league games, they have failed to win any of their last six on the road (3D, 3L). Their best prospect of success in Brittany is to forge chances for Victor Osimhen, the Nigerian international forward who is joint-top scorer in the division with five goals, alongside Moussa Dembélé of Lyon.
Rennes have their own sharpshooter in Mbaye Niang, signed on a permanent deal in the summer following a loan move from Torino. The Senegalese attacker has struck 12 Ligue 1 Conforama goals in 2019 and only Dembélé (16) and Kylian Mbappé (21) have bagged more. Niang it was who scored Rennes' goal against Celtic from the penalty spot, having been doubtful for the game through injury. Niang has been involved in four goals in his last four Ligue 1 Conforama appearances at Roazhon Park, scoring three times and creating one.
Sunday's match between two potential top-three sides will provide a good test for both teams at the start of a busy week that will see the top division sides play three times.
Rennes: Mendy; Traoré, Gélin, Gnagnon, Maouassa; Bourigeaud, Camavinga, Martin; Raphinha, Niang, Del Castillo
LOSC: Maignan; Celik, Fonte, Gabriel, Bradaric; André, Soumaré; Araujo, Yazici, Bamba; Osimhen