After a draw in Nantes (1-1) and a win against Lorient (1-0), Stade Rennais are preparing to play their third Breton derby in as many games in Ligue 1. Romain Danze and his teammates travel to the Stade du Roudourou this weekend. Captain of SRFC, the full back knows by heart the importance of these matches. After returning from a winter break to the busy La Piverdière, he spoke exclusively to DieseFoot.
During the break, there were some great people at La Piverdière. Were you able to rub shoulders with the French team or Zidane?
No, I did not meet les Blues. I only saw the match against Albania, as a normal supporter. We did not see them in training … Zidane, this was not the first time he came to Rennes. It’s always nice to see people like that. But they were there for their work and not for sightseeing. We have not had too much contact with them, they were very focused on their work and mission.
You just played Nantes and Lorient. Now you face another Breton derby, with the trip to Guingamp. Why are these games special?
It’s a derby, they are always important games for regional supremacy. For our fans, too, they are important. Especially since we know that there are things to be forgiven by them. If we can win these games that matter to them, it’s always a plus. And, in our dynamic, it is always important to win. But, you know, a derby is always in proportion, throughout France.
Do you feel such importance in the week leading up to these games? The fans and media are they more prevalent?
This is especially the case in the derby against Nantes which is special. It’s really about this game that there is a real expectation from the fans. When the schedule comes out, people look for this date first. Playing at La Beaujoire is always a great moment for us and for them, because there is an atmosphere with a lot of tension. They are always good times to experience. Against Guingamp, there is less animosity between the two clubs, although there is always a supremacy to enforce.
Traditionally, Rennes do not succeed in Guingamp. How do you explain that?
I do not know (laughs) … It’s true that it’s been a while since Stade Rennais beat Guingamp in various competitions. There have not been many matches either, because they played a lot of their matches in Ligue 2 and even National.
Some Guingamp supports say there may be a superiority complex on the side of Rennes?
No! It is their source of motivation … Their slogan is “The peasants are back.” It’s their thing to motivate them and to make it that little guy versus the big man. But, we at Rennes, at no time was it in our heads.
Do you yearn to finish this run of matches undefeated against your Breton neighbours?
Yes. Especially that during last season we only won a single match of the six we played in derbies. We lost a lot of points in these meetings. If we can continue taking points in these run of match, it is always better, that’s for sure.
With you being from the region, are you more motivated than usual? Do you deliver a special message to motivate your teammates?
Yes, we explain the importance of these meetings, especially since the arrival of many new players this year. We also recognize that there are many teammates with experience and who have played in other derbies. They also know that there are three points at stake and ONLY three points!
You’re originally from Brittany. Rennes is in Ille-et-Vilaine, Lorient in Morbihan, Guingamp in Côtes d’Armor and Nantes, Loire-Atlantique. When you were young, what team did you support?
Rennes (laughs) … My first steps were at the stadium in Rennes. I never knew the golden age of Brest Armorique and I did not connect with the football in Brest.
You are currently seventh. What can Stade Rennais target this season?
There have been so many disappointments in the past that we will not set targets or shoot for the moon, because we are on a good run. We must remain measured and not forget what we have learned. We finished 12th and 13th the last two seasons, with a very complicated year last year. We will do the best possible and the statements will be made at the end. The season is still very long and a lot can still happen.
You have not missed a single minute this season. Mentally and physically, how do you deal with this run of matches?
In Rennes, there is no hassle of playing in Europe. We play one game a week, which I am able to cope with. In addition, the coach has not made me play in the Coupe de la Ligue. I stay on the pace of a weekly game. There are no worries, we all love to play football. In addition, we defenders in the course of a game rarely change, it is more frequently the attackers who are substituted. In my opinion, there are more defenders who play all the games than centre forwards.
Thanks to DieseFoot for their permission in publishing this translated interview. The original interview in French can be found here.
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