STADE RENNAIS FC VS PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
VENUE: THE STADE DE LA ROUTE DE LORIENT
DATE: 6th APRIL 2013
KICK-OFF: 16:00 (GMT)
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The club as a whole this week has been living on cloud nine following the euphoria of Tuesday night against Barcelona. The Parc des Princes was as loud as it has ever been, we were playing the best team in Europe and on top of that a cult hero in Blaise Matuidi netted the all-important equaliser with the last kick of the game. It was quite a night, right?
We get to do it all over again next Wednesday in the infamous Camp Nou where the Catalan public will definitely make a cauldron of noise themselves. But, for the time being, the players must put that to the back of their mind.
This afternoon they travel to the Stade de la Route de Lorient looking to restore the seven point lead at the top. Olympique de Marseille beat Bordeaux 1-0 last night to pull themselves away from Lyon and etch ever closer to us at the summit. We have a golden opportunity to exploit the frailties of our opponents Rennes who have hit a dreadful run of form. With a Coupe de la Ligue final to look forward to this month, it appears their minds are solely on that. They have not won a game in their last six league outings which for a team of their quality is surprising. Their last two defeats have come against teams in the bottom three – Reims and Nancy. Perhaps the constant altering of formations has been a hindrance. They utilised a 5-4-1 last week, a 4-3-2-1 just before the international break. Nevertheless, it is not an ideal period, especially for one that has aspirations on that piece of silverware which they will contest for against an impressive Saint-Etienne.
Incredibly, when they beat us in November – whilst down to nine-men – they moved within a point of Les Parisiens at the top. They were quietly harbouring Champions League aspirations and taking inspiration from Montpellier who shocked the whole of France with their league triumph the season prior. Now they sit in 10th, and 19 points behind us.
After the effort put in on Tuesday in the Champions League quarter-final against Barca, coach Carlo Ancelotti must be thinking of chopping and changing somewhat. Alex is out having picked up a muscle strain in that game but should be fit for next week. Mamadou Sakho will come in to partner Thiago Silva with the likes of Gregory Van der Wiel, Jeremy Menez, Marco Verratti and Clement Chantome possibly returning to the starting-XI. Kevin Gameiro may also get a deserved start having impressed with his last two substitute appearances.
Ancelotti knows fitness is key in Catalonia on Wednesday if we are to pull off the unthinkable and overcome the La Liga leaders. He will most definitely have to rest some of the key personnel. Blaise Matuidi would have been one of those but unfortunately he is suspended for the return-leg, therefore he will most probably start today.
It is not a conundrum, more of a luxury. We are at the last stretch of the season and still in three competitions so the squad will need to be used to its absolute maximum. Food for thought for Carlo, but he will be loving the dilemma.