Rennes v Monaco: Ligue 1 Preview – Week 35
The big match of the weekend, in terms of European qualification anyway, sees Rennes host Monaco. Whilst the home side need the points to keep alive their dwindling hopes of Europa League football next season, Monaco will be looking for the win and the points in their quest to finish in second place and the final automatic Champions League qualification position.
Two hugely disappointing performances for Rennes in their last two games saw them go down to 3-0 defeats away to Nice and at home to Guingamp. It’s no coincidence that those thumping defeats occurred with star attacker Ousmane Dembele at his quietest since bursting onto the scene, Raymond Domenech rightly tweeting after the game that Rennes looked like a group of individuals, not playing as a team. The consecutive losses have put paid to hopes of a top three finish and a loss against Monaco will all but rule out a Europa League position too. Yoann Gourcuff will miss the game through injury with Pedro Mendes and Mehdi Zeffane not part of the squad. Jeremie Boga, who replaced Gourcuff at half time against Guingamp, could therefore be handed a start in a side which may see few other changes.
Monaco had been in shaky form after two consecutive losses before they secured a much needed three points at home to Marseille last weekend. With second place seemingly secure only a few weeks ago, dropped points against the likes of Nantes, Reims and Bordeaux have seem them joined by Lyon and Nice in the battle for automatic Champions League football. Leonardo Jardim will welcome Fares Bahlouli back into the squad for the game on Sunday but aside from that there are no other changes. With a Rennes defence leaking goals, Jardim may be tempted to start with the slightly more mobile Vagner Love or Guido Carrillo as his central attacking threat instead of Lacina Traore who struggled to impress against an equally limited Marseille defence.
This game will be about which of the skillful wide players can come out on top. Rennes will look to Dembele and Kamil Grosicki whilst Monaco will rely on Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar. Rennes will be licking their wounds after being put to the sword in front of their own fans by Guingamp last week and they will be hoping Dembele can return to form. Monaco though on paper should have enough to sneak a closely fought win by the odd goal.