An under-performing Rennes outfit will desperately seek a return to winning ways when Brest pay a visit to the Roazhon Park for Sunday’s Ligue 1 encounter.
Bruno Genesio’s side went down 2-1 to newly-promoted Clermont before the international break, while the visitors bowed out of the Coupe de France 2-0 to Nantes.
A distinct lack of January transfer activity at Rennes headquarters surprised some given their abysmal downturn in fortunes of late, with Genesio’s men struggling to perform while a chunk of their crop compete at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Such fears will be quelled soon enough as the tournament reaches its climax, but Les Rouge et Noir’s latest in a long line of recent losses came at the Stade Gabriel-Montpied on January 23, as Baptiste Santamaria’s header was cancelled out by Lucas Da Cunha and Jordan Tell in a 2-1 win for Clermont.
The 6-0 humiliation of Bordeaux seems like an eternity ago given how they were brought back to reality by Pascal Gastien’s side, and Rennes have lost some vital ground in the race for Champions League football – now sitting in fifth place and six points adrift of the top three.
Furthermore, Strasbourg – now under the tutelage of former Rennes manager Julien Stephan – sitting higher than Les Rouge et Noir in the table will be a painful one to swallow for the home crowd, and Genesio’s men head into Sunday’s game having lost four of their last five in the top flight.
One saving grace for Rennes is that they have not lost their goalscoring touch on home soil – finding the back of the net in eight Ligue 1 games in a row at Roazhon Park – but confidence levels may be slightly higher in the visiting camp right now.
Brest coach Michel Der Zakarian on January 22, 2022© Reuters
From the highs of seeing off the reigning French champions to the lows of bowing out of the Coupe de France with a whimper, Brest’s inconsistency continues to hold them back, as a first-string side were no match for Les Canaris last Friday.
Nantes captain Ludovic Blas struck either side of half time to send Brest packing in the last-16 stage, and Michel Der Zakarian’s side have struggled to keep the momentum going from their extraordinary autumnal period, with that six-game winning streak in Ligue 1 now a distant memory.
Still comfortably avoiding the threat of a relegation battle but rank outsiders when it comes to challenging for a European berth, Brest find themselves 13th in the table after 22 matches of the 2021-22 season, but a gap of just six points to their upcoming opponents in the fifth and final continental spot is by no means insurmountable.
Brest and the 12 sides above them can all be considered realistic contenders for European football given the extremely tight nature of the table, but it is now just one win in their last five top-flight games for Der Zakarian’s side, who have failed to keep a clean sheet on the road in Ligue 1 all season.
Les Pirates did manage to hold Rennes to a 1-1 draw during their maiden home match of the season, but Les Rouge et Noir ran out 2-1 winners on their own turf last season and are unbeaten in 10 against the visitors, whose last win on Rennes’ turf came all the way back in 1