Sunday’s Ligue 1 action begins with Rennes looking to bounce back from back-to-back defeats when they host Lorient at Roazhon Park.
The home side have seen their Champions League spot come under pressure following the losses against their top-three rivals, whilst the visitors continued their revival at the bottom with another victory in the week.
Losing successive games at this stage of the season was always going to be a setback for Rennes in their quest for a place in next season’s Champions League, but losing to fellow top-three-hopefuls Monaco and Strasbourg has been particularly damaging.
Bruno Genesio’s side remain in control of their own destiny in third place, but the continuing strong form of the previously mentioned duo, as well as Marseille, has seen Rennes fall six points behind the latter in second, and also seen their advantage over fourth and fifth place vanish in recent weeks.
After falling behind inside four minutes at the Stade de la Meinau on Wednesday evening, Les Rennais responded well and found a deserved equaliser through Martin Terrier, but a strong second-half display from their hosts saw them fall to a 2-1 defeat following Ludovic Ajorque’s goal in the 77th minute.
Beginning with Lorient on Sunday, Rennes have favourable fixtures in their next three outings to get their form back on track in the remaining few weeks of the campaign, before huge clashes with Marseille and Lille in their final two games.
Rebuilding their advantage over their rivals could therefore prove crucial ahead of a difficult end to the season, and with 11 of their 17 league victories this season arriving at Roazhon Park, the hosts will certainly be expected to do so against their relegation-threatened opponents.
Lorient’s Terem Moffi celebrates scoring their first goal with Houboulang Mendes on April 3, 2022© Reuters
Meanwhile, Lorient will be looking to end a seven-game winless streak at the venue on Sunday to further boost their hopes of survival in Ligue 1.
The narrow 1-0 victory over bottom-of-the-table Metz in midweek extended their impressive form of late to four wins in eight games, which has lifted Lorient away from trouble for the time being.
However, there remains work to be done in the final five fixtures of the campaign, with just three points keeping Sunday’s visitors above Saint-Etienne in the relegation playoff spot.
A healthy seven-point advantage over Bordeaux in the automatic relegation zone is a huge boost to their chances of remaining in the top flight though, but boss Christophe Pelissier will wish to ensure complacency does not begin to creep in until their survival has been confirmed at least.
Dango Ouattara was the hero on Wednesday evening, with the 20-year-old coming off the bench to net in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time to provide Les Merlus with the crucial three points.
Should Pelissier’s men manage to carry that jubilation into Sunday’s encounter, they stand every chance of picking up a positive result against a Rennes side sure to be hurting after two successive defeats to their rivals for continental qualification.