2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,200 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 20 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Interview: Romain Danze


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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Photo courtesy of beIN Sports


Week 6 Match Preview: Olympique de Marseille v Stade Rennais


Week 6 Match Preview: Olympique de Marseille v Stade Rennais Saturday 20 September

After last weeks excellent, disciplined performance to hold the champions to a 1-1 draw, Rennes head to the south coast to face another Ligue 1 giant in Marseille.

With PSG focusing on their midweek Champions League game (allegedly!!), this will probably be Rennes most difficult match to date.  After a poor-ish start to the season, Marcelo Bielsa seems to now have found the right recipe for les Phoceens.  Bielsa may be known for his intensive training methods but the desired effect seems to now be paying dividends.  Going forward Marseille are blessed with talent; Dimitri Payet is flourishing in the post Mathieu Valbuena era, scoring goal, making goals and being a general threat.  Florian Thauvin appears to be settling down, becoming less temperamental and letting his football do the talking.  Andre-Pierre Gignac is doing what he does best – scoring goals and tormenting defenders.  Only Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored more than hims this season.  He is working hard for the team and is looking at the peak of his physical fitness.  Marseille can also call upon Andre Ayew, Abdelaziz Barrada and former les Rouges et Noirs man Romain Alessandrini.

At the start of the season, it was the defence which represented Marseille’ biggest weakness.  A 3-5-2 formation really struggled to gel as they lacked the personnel capable of fulfilling a back three with two wing-backs.  Bielsa reverted to a back four against Evian last week with Jeremy Morel and Brice Djadjedje as full backs and Nicolas Nkoulou and the re-integrated Rod Fanni, another ex-Rennais, pairing as centre backs.  This seemed much more settled with players in more familiar roles and is expected to be how they line up on Saturday afternoon.  The only exception being the possible return of Benjamin Mendy at left back.  In front of them is the rejuvenated Gianelli Imbula.  The former Guingamp player just lost his way at times this season but the introduction of Bielsa seems to have returned all confidence back to the talented youngster.  A protective presence in front of the defence, Imbula is equally comfortable with the ball at his feet as he is distributing passes around the pitch.  His boundless energy also allows him to be a danger further up the pitch as proven when he scored his first goal of the season last weekend against Evian.

doucoure marseille

If Rennes are to have any joy on Saturday afternoon, it is the full backs for Marseille that they need to target.  They are not the strongest and are very much confidence players.  If Pedro Henrique, Sanjin Prcic or Paul-Georges Ntep can get the better of them in the early moments of the game, their heads could drop and cracks in the defence could became available for exploitation.  Targeting Steve Mandanda, who has not had the best of starts to the season and has looked shaky at times, could be a useful tactic too.

It is also key for Rennes that Abdoulaye Doucure pushes forward to support Ola Toivonen where possible to avoid the Swede becoming an isolated figure.  There should be no changes at the back as the defensive six of Benoit Costil, Romain Danze, Edson Mexer, Sylvan Armand, Cheikh M’Bengue, Vincent Pajot and Gelson Fernandes should continue again.  Ever reliable this season, it is good to see such an organised unit working very well so far.

The corresponding fixture last season was a classic daylight robbery kind of match.  Rennes withstood a barrage of pressure from the home side before unleashing a lightning fast counter attack through Nelson Oliveira, Jonathan Pitroipa and Jean Makoun before Doucoure broke clear to calmly slot beyond Mandanda to give Rennes a priceless away victory late in the season.

Suffice to say though that since then, these are now two very different teams.  Marseille are a different animal under El Loco and Rennes, player wise, are almost unrecognisable from the team that came to the Veldorome last season.  Let’d not forget that spice has been added to this game through Mexer’ comments earlier in the week where he said “I don’t know much about this team…I’ve seen just a few games. I’ve heard of Mandanda, but otherwise I don’t know anyone……I don’t know him (Gignac), so it will be important to observe his movements on video.”  Might not go down to well with the Velodrome faithful!

Expect a good, close game.  Rennes will need to be at their absolute, resolute best to take something away from team currently lying in second place in Ligue 1.  It can be done so fingers crossed.

Allez les Rouges et Noirs!

Photos courtesy of http://www.staderennais.com and http://www.actusports.fr.

Interview: Pedro Henrique

Henrique LeTelegramme.fr PSG

Interview: Pedro Henrique

The Brazilian winger has made a good start to life in Brittany.  Henrique spoke with the club for an interview published in the matchday programme ahead of the game against Paris Saint Germain.  The matchday programme is now available online via the official club website.

Pedro, what significant differences have you seen between Ligue 1 and the Swiss league?

In Switzerland, the top teams have a range of levels.  In France, the twenty clubs are very strong. I also feel more passion around the games in France.  In Zurich, the crowd was far from the pitch because there was an athletics track.  In Rennes, fans are very close and I like it!  The atmosphere is different.

Against Saint-Etienne, you came off for a few minutes to treat your nose which was bloodied by an elbow. You have experienced that Ligue 1 can be rough …

Yes, every game is a battle. In training, there is also a lot of intensity. But this is not a problem!

Against Paris, SRFC will need to raise its level of play to win …

Yes, we got results, as against Caen, but we realise that we must improve.  There were many arrivals and changes in players.  It’s not easy to get to the required level automatically.  But it will all come together.

What is needed to beat the Parisians?

I have great respect for Paris but at home, we should be able to beat all teams.  The hardest part is finding the right balance.  It will take not too much defending or attacking.  Paris have great players, but there is also the quality in Rennes.  We can compete.

There are many Brazilians in Paris (Lucas, David Luiz, Maxwell, Thiago Silva …).   Do you know them personally?

No, but I focus on the path of Lucas.  I love his style.  He plays in the same position as me.  I appreciate his style: he is an incredible dribbler.  I am trying to get a bit of inspiration from him.  I think he has a very great future.



Your favourite movie?

Gladiator. I love epics and this one is very successful.

Your favourite music?

Brazilian music … There are obviously many artists. I cannot highlight one!

The best player currently playing?

Cristiano Ronaldo.  I love players like him.  He has exceptional technical qualities.  He can do everything: dribble, pass, score … and each time, he does it with a smile!

The best player of all time?

Ronaldinho.  For the same reason as Cristiano Ronaldo.  He, too, is always smiling.  For these players, football is a pleasure.  It shows on the field.  He is a fantastic and complete player.

Do you follow footballing news?

Yes a lot.  I look at all championships: Brazilian, German, English, Spanish …

Henrique skysports

Your best friend in football?

In Zurich, I got along well with Davide Chiumiento.  He also played in Ligue 1 with Le Mans in 2005.

Your favourite gesture on the pitch?

Ronaldo and his dribbling manner: to the body!

Your favourite sport outside of football?

Just football!

What would you like to do after you retire?

I’d like to stay in football. coach, manager, director or educator!

What would you have done if you had not made it in football?

I really do not know … (silence).  I always wanted to be a pro.  I thought only that!  Football, football and more football!


The original interview can be found in the matchday programme available via http://www.staderennais.com.  Photos courtesy of http://www.letelegramme.fr and http://www.skysports.com.

Week 5 Match Report: Stade Rennais v Paris Saint Germain

SRFC fans

Week 5 Match Report: Stade Rennais v Paris Saint German 13 September 2014

The new improved Stade Rennais march on after the afternoon’ game against champions PSG finished 1-1.  That’s now four games unbeaten for les Rouges et Noirs as they sit temporarily third in Ligue 1.

A near capacity crowd welcomed the players onto the pitch as both teams came into the match on the back of wins in week four.  The opening thirty minutes went by with not much action but plenty of PSG possession.  The first big chance fell to the away side as Lucas Moura floated a long ball over the Rennes defence.  Edson Mexer could only get a slight touch with his head before Zlatan Ibrahimovic improvised well with an overhead kick only to see it saved by Benoit Costil.  Rennes fashioned their first chance minutes later as Sanjin Prcic did well to beat his man before curling an effort which was comfortably saved by Salvatore Sirigu.  PSG were inches away from taking the lead shortly after as a wonderful long ball from Marco Verratti found Ibrahimovic in the Rennes box but his cushioned volley smacked back off the crossbar.  This should have served as a big warning for the home side but they failed to react as moment later a Gregory Van Der Wiel cross evaded everyone except for Zoumana Camara as the veteran central defender slotted home.  That was pretty much the last action of the half as PSG went into the break with the lead their domination in possession warranted.

Costil Ibra

Rennes began the second half much brighter as Abdoulaye Doucoure and Ola Toivonen fashioned half chances for les Rouges et Noirs.  Ten minutes into the second half and Philippe Montanier made his first change as Paul-Georges Ntep came on for Pedro Henrique.  Seconds later and Rennes were level in bizarre circumstances.  The ball was played out to Ntep on the right, he cut in and crossed for Doucoure.  As the PSG defence froze, incorrectly assuming Doucoure to be offside, the Rennes number eight played at but missed the ball as the unintentional dummy fooled Sirigu and the ball rolled into the net.  A significant stroke of fortune for the home side but as the second half went on, it proved to be a deserved slice of luck.  All of a sudden Rennes were in the ascendancy and had the best chance to take the lead shortly after.  Toivonen, on the counter attack, played a long ball up field.  Ntep showed blistering pace to charge beyond Maxwell but his near post shot was brilliantly saved by Sirigu.  At the other end, Costil made important saves from an Edinson Cavani shot and crosses from Ezequiel Lavezzi and Van Der Wiel.  As the game entered the last ten minutes it became clear both teams were settling for the draw as both sets of players looked tired and with the PSG players with half an eye on their midweek Champions League game.  Rennes had one final chance with a free kick late on but it was wasted as the referee blew the final whistle.

Ntep PSG - AFP

A really encouraging performance from Rennes after a poor first half.  There was a degree of organisation in the defence we haven’t seen for a while.  There really does seem to be an excellent relationship blossoming between Mexer and Sylvain Armand with Mexer providing the pace and Armand the experience.  In front of them, Gelson Fernandes continued his brilliant start to life back in Ligue 1 as he put in a superb performance full, breaking up attack after attack and providing an reassuring presence in front of the defence.  Henrique and Ntep provided lots of pace and menace down the wings.  Costil, again, provided a number of crucial saves and interceptions as he continued to stake his claim as the best goalkeeper in the division.  Toivonen put in his usual sterling effort up front as with little support he fought for the ball, came deep where needed and was a nuisance where possible.  In terms of negatives, players such as Doucoure and Vincent Pajot need reduce the number of misplaced passes they make.  Prcic needs to get involved in the game more as whilst he has the skill and talent to succeed, he is too often anonymous in the game.

Up next for Rennes is a trip to Marseille next Saturday afternoon.  A repeat of the win from last season would be most welcome and with renewed optimism slowly creeping into the side, it wouldn’t be out of the question.


Montanier: “It’s satisfying to have equalised. The second half was satisfying, too. We were more enterprising, more incisive going forward against a Paris team that is always difficult to play against. We knew that they are capable of exploiting the slightest weakness – you saw that – so we couldn’t show them any weakness. We also wanted to optimise our use of the ball, which we struggled to do in the first half and did better in the second. I think we stayed very united. The goal before half-time hurt us a bit, but the players maintained the same attitude, the same solidarity and cohesion – that was important.”

Romain Danze: “Taking a point against Paris is always a good result.  This result allows us not to have too much pressure before a series of tough games. We put a lot of heart to apply our defensive instructions. Of course, Paris made ​​the game yet we coped with our resources. It’s not a great spectacle but we are here to win points.”

Fernandes: “Paris consistently dominated this match in particular with their technical mastery. They are a great team. We produced a second half full of power and desire. With even more luck, we could have completed a robbery. We have a tough schedule, we’ve got by well so far this season. Tonight we completed a good plan.”


Stade Rennais: Costil, Danze (C), Mexer, Armand, M’Bengue, Fernandes, Pajot (Konradsen 86′), Henrique (Ntep 55′), Doucoure, Prcic (Moreira 78′), Toivonen

Goal: Ntep 55′

Yellow Card: M’Bengue 77′

PSG: Sirigu, Van Der Wiel, Camara, Marquinhos, Maxwell, Motta (Matuidi 72′), Verratti, Pastore (Cabaye 83′), Lucas (Lavezzi 72′), Cavani, Ibrahimovic (C)

Goal: Camara 43′

Yellow Card: Verratti 76′

Man of the Match

Gelson Fernandes – the Swiss international put in one of his best performances to date against the champions.  He broke up countless attacks and disrupted the PSG forward line to limit the chances of them finding the dangerous Ibrahimovic.  Quickly looking like one of the signings of the season.

Photos courtesy of: @antoinegbt, @MenardMalika, AFP.

Week 5 Match Preview: Stade Rennais v Paris Saint Germain

Rennes PSG

Week 5 Match Preview: Stade Rennais v Paris Saint Germain 13 September 2014

Ligue 1 action returns this weekend after the international break and les Rouges et Noirs face their toughest test of the season so far as they welcome the current champions to the Stade de la Route de Lorient.

This fixture has not been a happy one for Rennes over the last few years, despite securing victories in Paris in the reverse fixture in the last two seasons.  PSG, and key man Zlatan Ibrahimovic, come to Brittany having hit form.  The men from the capital secured a 5-0 thrashing of Saint-Etienne in week four with Zlatan netting a hat-trick before he scored a double for Sweden in the international break.  Rennes can take some solice from the fact that PSG will probably be without David Luiz in addition to Gregory Van Der Wiel, Serge Aurier and captain Thiago Silva.  Whilst a makeshift defence could be a weakness Ola Toivonen and the Rennes attack may look to take advantage of, it is the PSG attack the home side will need to concentrate on most.  Along with Zlatan, PSG will be able to reap the benefits of Edinson Cavani, Lucas Moura and the vastly improved Javier Pastore.  It is these attacking threats Rennes will have to deal with to the best of their ability.

After an injury scare during the week, Sylvain Armand should be fit to start against his former club.  Kamil Grosicki remains a doubt ahead of the kick off on Saturday afternoon.  Rennes will have new signing Habib Habibou available and he should play a part in the game.  Philippe Montanier has been keen to emphasise the fact he can play out wide, so with Grosicki potentially unavailable, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Habibou start on the right wing.  With this in mind, my predicted starting XI for the match would be as follows:

Rennes v PSG

As we have said before, the key for Rennes is how well they can contain the threat of Ibrahimovic.  If Pajot and Fernandes can starve his service and Armand and Mexer keep tight to him then there is a chance Rennes can sneak a positive result.  Unfortunately this might prove too tough and so it pains me to say that I feel PSG will sneak a one goal win on Saturday.  Match report will follow shortly after the final whistle.  Please feel free to let me know your thoughts ahead of kick off.

Photo courtesy of http://www.rennes.maville.com.


Mercato Round Up

Rennes badg

Mercato Round Up

With the summer transfer window now closed, we summarise the comings and goings at le Stade de la Route de Lorient.


New signings

Olivier Sorin

Age: 33

Position: Goalkeeper

Previous Club: AJ Auxerre

Bought For: Free

Quote: “It’s an interesting challenge.  I have already experienced Ligue 1 in the past.  I know Paul George Ntep, Axel Ngando and Zana Allee with whom I played with at Auxerre last season.  I want to meet all the objectives that the coach will set the group.” – Olivier Sorin

Benjamin Andre

Age: 24

Position: Defender

Previous Club: AC Ajaccio

Bought For: Free

Quote: “I already followed him when I was at Boulogne.  He started playing in Ligue 1 with Ajaccio very young.  All observers of football will tell you that he is a very good player. He is versatile.  I’m going to play him at right back because I think he really has great potential.  I think he has all the characteristics to emerge as right back.  There will be competition with Romain Danze. It is essential to have two players for each position. We found this out late last season with the departure of Emerson.” – Philippe Montanier

Fallou Diagne

Age: 25

Position: Defender

Previous Club: Freiburg (Germany)

Bought For: €1.50m

Quote: “Stade Rennais is a recognised club.  When I was asked to come, I did not hesitate.  Many Senegalese have played for the club such as Kader Mangane and Moussa Sow.  They had some great seasons here.  I spoke with Gelson (Fernandes).  His first impressions of the club are good.  I have to prove myself because I have not played in Ligue 1.” – Fallou Diagne

Edson Mexer 

Age: 25

Position: Defender

Previous Club: Nacional (Portugal)

Bought For: €2.20m

Quote: “I am excited to join Stade Rennais.  It’s a dream for me to play in Ligue 1.  I hope to defend the colors of the club with the greatest of success.” – Edson Mexer

Gjoko Zajkov

Age: 19

Position: Defender

Previous Club: Rabotnicki Skopje (Macedonia)

Bought For: Free

Quote: “It’s hard to find new central defenders at a very high level.  He is a young defender who is already playing for Macedonia.  He is very good technically and in the tackle.  He is a modern central defender.  We are happy to have him with us because a lot of big clubs were interested in him.  He was attracted to our project.  Stade Rennais FC is a good intermediate club that knows how to integrate youth.  These parameters led him to join us.” – Philippe Montanier

Gelson Fernandes

Age: 28

Position: Midfielder

Previous Club: Freiburg (Germany)

Bought For: €1.60m

Quote: “I’m glad I’ve now joined.  It was my choice to join Stade Rennais.  It’s a challenge that is exciting and I am ready for the challenge.  There is a very good team that is far from having exploited its potential.  I was also attracted by the club facilities.” – Gelson Fernandes

Christian Bruls

Age: 25

Position: Midfielder

Previous Club: KAA Gent

Bought For: €2.20m

Quote: “We followed Christian for a long time.  In particular, we already started discussions last spring.  He is a player that is technically very comfortable and also has a lot of heart.  He is also able to take set pieces. Last season in Nice, he was very consistent in his performance.” – Philippe Montanier

Sanjin Prcic

Age: 20

Position: Midfielder

Previous Club: FC Sochaux Montbeliard

Bought For: €1.00m

Quote: “I am very pleased to sign for the club.  Everyone has welcomed me very well.  This is the beginning of a new phase for me.  Here, all the conditions are met to advance and enrich me.  Stade Rennais has always been a very good club.  It is capable of playing in Europe.  I do not know them personally but I know there are experienced players who are able to guide the younger ones.” – Sanjin Prcic

Pedro Henrique

Age: 24

Position: Midfielder

Previous Club: FC Zurich (Switzerland)

Bought For: €1.00m

Quote: “Shabani Nonda, who played for Zurich and Stade Rennais has said positive things about the club.  I also know that there have been several Brazilians to play here.  I have heard from many that Alexander Frei had great success at the club.  I saw the match against Paris Saint-Germain and I was impressed with the level of the game.  Even though I know Stade Rennais had a difficult last season, there is a good potential.  My first goal is to get to know my new teammates and make my way into the team.  I want to progress at Stade Rennais and try to help the club to have a good season.” – Pedro Henrique

Habib Habibou

Age: 27

Position: Forward

Previous Club: KAA Gent

Bought For: €2.00m

Quote: “He is able to play up front or on the wing.  He has power and speed.  He also has a lot of experience.  He does not come to replace Ola Toivonen as he is versatile and they can play together.  These are tough positions.” – Philippe Montanier

Philipp Hosiner

Age: 25

Position: Forward

Previous Club: Austria Vienne (Austria)

Bought For: €1.90m

Quote: “He is a striker who scores goals.  He is very generous and combative in harrassing the defenders.  He is a pure centre forward.  It’s hard to appreciate the difficulty of the Austrian championship.  But when you see how he played in the match against Zenit St Petersburg in the Champions League, he was at an international level.” – Philippe Montanier



Tiemoue Bakayoko – sold to AS Monaco for €8.00m

Romain Alessandrini – sold to Olympique de Marseille for €5.00m

Jonathan Pitroipa – sold to Al-Jazira for €3.00m

Dimitri Foulquier – sold to Granada for €2.80m

Julien Feret – released (SM Caen)

John Boye – released (Kayserispor)

Cheikh N’Diaye – released

Abdoulaye Diallo – loaned to Le Havre

Sadio Diallo – loaned to Lorient

Cheick Fantamady Diarra – loaned to AJ Auxerre

Cedric Hountondji – loaned to Chateauroux

Wesley Said – loaned to Laval

Pictures courtesy of http://www.staderennais.com and http://www.alfalfastudio.com.

Week 4 Match Report: SM Caen v Stade Rennais

Caen Rennes

Week 4 Match Report: SM Caen v Stade Rennais – 30 August 2014

Stade Rennais came away with all three points in Le Mans as they faced a Julien Feret led Caen, despite not being at their best.  With Kamil Grosicki and Paul-Georges Ntep restored to the starting 11, les Rouges et Noirs struggled against a Caen side who were determined from the off.

Within the opening 15 minutes, Caen had created two good chances.  After picking up a loose ball 20 yards out, Feret saw a rasping drive fly just the wrong side of the post.  Minutes later Bangaly-Fode Koita rose highest from a corner to crash a header against the crossbar.  Rennes had been given two warning shots early in the game.

The main talking point of the half came 30 minutes in.  After early picking up a yellow card for a late lunge on Ntep, N’Golo Kante lost his head when lunging in on Vincent Pajot and picked up a second booking and the inevitable red card.  The foul seemed to get to Pajot as he was booked shortly after for a similarly wild challenge on Herve Bazile.

Stade Rennais’ first real chance came late in the half as a Ntep cross found Abdoulaye Doucoure in the Caen penalty area, he knocked it down to Ola Toivonen.  The Swede took a heavy touch on his knee which meant the ball failed to come down in time leading to his shot flying over the bar.

Rennes fans Caen

Shortly after the break, Rennes made a double change as Grosicki and Pajot were replaced by Sanjin Prcic and Pedro Henrique.  The away side were on the back foot for most of the second half as Caen piled forward with attack after attack.  Crucially though they failed to create a clear cut chance.  Something they would go on to regret.

As the game wore on, it seemed that Caen were the most likely to get a winner.  Rennes though, should have been awarded a penalty less than 10 minutes from time as Henrique burst into the box only to be brought down by Thomas Lemar.  It seemed a clear infringement but the referee waved play on.  With only two minutes left, Jordan Adeoti needlessly brought down substitute Philipp Hosiner before Toivonen scored.  Hearts were in mouths as the referee disallowed the goal before fortunately pointing to the spot.  That left Toivonen the simple task of sending Caen goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre the wrong way to put les Rouges et Noirs ahead.

Rennes held out for victory, a win which takes them provisionally up to 5th place in Ligue 1.  It was encouraging to see les Rouges et Noirs come away with the points in a game where they were second best.  This wasn’t the case last season and can only be encouraging for the campaign ahead.  After the match, Caen native Costil agreed by saying that “this may seem like robbery”, he went on to say that “the win was important as we have important upcoming games against Paris and Marseille”.

There’s now a two week international break before the Stade de la Route de Lorient plays host to the visit of champions Paris Saint Germain.


Montanier: “We didn’t do an awful lot in the game and finding ourselves with an extra man did not really help us.  We never really managed to get the ball moving or create clear chances.  We had put together two good performances in a row and we were really hopeful coming into this match.  We were confident and thought we could show our qualities.  In the first half we won the ball back well and defended well but we struggled going forward.  And things became complicated after we found ourselves with the extra man.  Caen defended in numbers and were well organised, and we lacked the quality to break them down.  Against a brave and hard-working team like that the passing needs to be better, but we kept believing right to the end, even if we weren’t good.  We can be very satisfied with the result but we will know not to get carried away after that match.”

Pajot: “It was a tough game, we struggled to create chances.  The important thing is the victory. It has not demobilised us, we knew we had to be patient to score and that’s what we did.  When they were reduced to ten men, it bothered us.  This will serve as a lesson.  Every game since the beginning of the season is different.  It will be a mixture of all those as we try to get a good result against Paris!”

Doucoure: “We came to win.  It was difficult but we did it.  We are increasing momentum over the games, so it will be more automatic.  We will continue to gain momentum.”


SM Caen: Vercoutre, Appiah, Pierre, Calve, Da Silva, Kante, Adeoti, Feret (C), Nangis, Koita (Raspentino 65′), Bazile (Lemar 78′)

Yellow Card: Kante 16′, 29′

Red Card: Kante 29′

Stade Rennais: Costil, Danze (C), Mexer, Armand, M’Bengue, Fernandes, Pajot (Prcic 59′), Doucoure, Ntep (Hosiner 79′), Grosicki (Henrique 59′), Toivonen

Yellow Card: Pajot 33′, Armand 74′

Man of the Match: Costil – yet again, the Rennes number one produced a number of saves to keep les Rouges et Noirs in the game. An indispensable member of the team in a week where he should have received his first call up to les Bleus.

Pictures courtesy of http://www.ouest-france.fr and http://www.staderennais.com.

Week 4 Match Preview: SM Caen v Stade Rennais

Week 4 Match Preview: SM Caen v Stade Rennais

It’s Normandy v Brittany as Stade Rennais face SM Caen in Week 4 of Ligue 1 although the match itself will be played at Le Mans ground, MMArena due to the World Equestrian Championships being played at Caen’ normal home ground, le Stade Michel d’Ornano.

This will be a tougher match for les Rouges et Noirs than perhaps originally expected.  The teams played each other in a pre-season friendly with Caen coming out 2-0 winners, although many in that Stade Rennais squad won’t be in action on Saturday night.  Caen then went on to make an excellent start to life back in Ligue 1.  They flew out of the blocks with a 0-3 win away to Evian Thonon Gaillard.  Only a dreadful refereeing error in awarding Lille a penalty and sending off Dennis Appiah, meant they went down to a 0-1 home (in Le Mans) loss.  Caen recovered from that to record their first ever win over Reims in a trip to the Champagne region.

A number of players have stood out for Caen so far this season including N’Golo Kante, top scorer Mathieu Duhamel and goalkeeper Remy Vercoutre.  There is plenty to link the two teams ahead of this match in addition to the neighbourly departments.  Longstanding Stade Rennais fan favourite, Julien Feret, will line up as Caen captain against his former teammates.  Feret has used his quiet yet authoritative demeanour to great effect and whilst it is sad not to see him wearing the “rouge et noir“, it is nice to see him playing regular Ligue 1 football.  Former La Piverdière product Damien Perquis will be on the Caen bench as reserve goalkeeper.

It is in the goalkeeper department we see the final major link between the two teams.  Caen born Benoit Costil joined the Normandy team when he was 8 and although he went on to only play 15 games for the senior side in Ligue 2, still has plenty of connections with his hometown team.  His mother and father regularly volunteer their services on match days and his brother, Eddy, helps train the goalkeepers at the club.

Stade Rennais welcome back Kamil Grosicki into their match day squad as he makes his return from injury.  New signing Fallou Diagne is also in the squad at the expense of Cedric Hountondji who has gone on loan to Chateauroux.  Christian Bruls, Axel Ngando and Benjamin Andre are still out injured.  Zana Allee, Adrien Hunou, Wesley Said and Gjoko Zajkov playing with the CFA2 team with Said, Allee and Hunou all rumoured to be sent on loan.  Jean Makoun II and Jean-Armal Kana-Biyik remain out of the squad as they seek moves away from the club.

With this in mind, there shouldn’t be too many changes from the Saint-Etienne game and so would expect Stade Rennais to line up as follows:

Rennes v Caen

This will be a tough game for les Rouges et Noirs and I predict a 1-1 draw.

Interview: Sanjin Prcic

Courtesy of www.staderennais.com

Interview: Sanjin Prcic

The official Stade Rennais website has published an interview with Bosnian midfielder Sanjin Prcic.  We have translated this below.

Sanjin, how did you experience your first games in “Rouge et Noir”?

It went very well since we won the first game 6-2 at home.  It was a very good game with a great atmosphere, the crowd was behind us, it was really great.  The second game was still positive in Saint-Etienne.  We are very happy with the result.  More generally, since I arrived, I am very happy with my integration.

In the matches against Evian and Saint-Etienne, you played well, did you expect such a rapid acclimatisation?

I did not.  Stade Rennais is a great club and we can still improve.  We see it every day in training.  You really feel the potential. The whole club is responsive which puts us at ease.  This is what has allowed me to integrate myself.  I really want to thank them.

Against Saint-Etienne, we saw you play on the right wing …

I’m more used to play in the centre.  It’s my job in training.  Moving on the right side did not bother me.  We must be able to strive, to make sacrifices for the team.

Courtesy of www.staderennais.com

We saw you take the set pieces.  Are you used to that?

As soon as I arrived at the training camp in Germany, the coach encouraged me to take them.  He told me not to hesitate to do so.  This is something that works a lot in training, it is important to find automation with the other players.  These are very important phases during the game where you can score a lot of goals.  From a young age, I love doing it and so I try to take corners and free kicks.

Against Evian we especially saw Gelson Fernandes speak often to you …

Gelson has great experience.  He helps us a lot and gives us advice that we try to follow.  This is only my second season in Ligue 1, I need advice from experienced players.  There are players like Sylvain (Armand) who have played for big clubs.  We observe, we take example from them.  It is important to have experienced players to guide us and help us in everyday life.

Courtesy of www.staderennais.com

You’re going to have your first cap for the Bosnia and Herzegovina national team, how do you feel?

I am very proud because it has been 5 years since I was selected (note: in the youth teams).  This is my first call up and I am very happy because the next matches are qualifiers for Euro 2016.  This is another major step taken forwards by me.

What do you think about the selection of Bosnia and Herzegovina?

This is a very good team, which gained momentum in the last 5 years and obtained their qualification for the last World Cup.  This was a first and historic moment for the country.  They failed to produce great games but it proves in the selection that Bosnia and Herzegovina is becoming a great team.  We also feel an enthusiasm around this selection.  All Bosnians are attached to the national team.  So we try to make them happy and give them emotion.

Interview and photos courtesy of www.staderennais.com.  www.staderennais.com are not liable for the translation.