Match Report: Agony All Over Again

Saturday 03 May 2014 – Coupe de France Final: Stade Rennais 0 EA Guingamp 2

A Coupe de France final you say? An all Brittany affair you say? Against Guingamp again you say? Surely Rennes won’t choke again will they? History won’t repeat itself will it? Er….yes as it goes!  In Saturday night’s domestic cup showpiece, Guingamp were the ones to put in a performance of determination, positivity and desire as they repeated their 2009 success over Rennes with a comfortable as you like 2-0 victory.

Prior to kick off and the Stade de France was bathed in sunlight with a packed house full of raucous Bretons who having drunk the bars dry of beer, were in full cheer.  After a pitch perfect performance of the Breton anthem Bro Gozh ma Zadou and a rousing La Marseillaise, both teams began showing plenty if cup final nerves.

It was the underdogs, Guingamp, who settled the quickest and produced three chances in quick succession through Claudio Beauvue, Christophe Mandanne and Christophe Kerbrat.  It seemed clear that Guingamp’ game plan was to fly out of the blocks and not allow Rennes time on the ball.  A very effective strategy as the Rennes midfield proved non-existent for large parts of the game.  Guingamp were finding joy down the right wing, targeting the inexperience of Steven Moreira with Jonathan Martins-Pereira able to get a number of crosses in to Mustapha Yatabara but a combination of Costil and wasteful finishing meant that Rennes were able to survive until shortly before half time.

Despite having such an excellent season, it was unfortunate that the opening goal came from a Costil mistake as he failed to make a decent connection on a punch clear.  The ball fell to Martins-Pereira, just inside the box and the right back fired a powerful first time shot, which took a slight deflection before into the top corner.  It was a goal which Guingamp entirely deserved for their first half endeavours.  Rennes had gone through the opening 45 minutes barely mustering a shot, passes were being mis-hit and nothing appeared to be clicking.

Rennes would have wanted to make a positive start to the second half but less than a minute in and Guingamp had doubled their lead.  A cross from the excellent Steeven Langil found Yatabare inexcusably unmarked in the six yard to box to head home giving Costil no chance.  The stuffing had been knocked out of Rennes before they’d had chance to think.  It didn’t take long for the first change to be made as Paul-Georges Ntep came on the disappointing Kamil Grosicki on a night where nothing went right for the Pole.

For such a young player, a lot seemed to rest on the shoulders of Ntep but he seemed to cope as Rennes were finally able to produce some chances.  Abdoulaye Doucoure, who had been marked out of the game so far, finally found space and produced a shot which Mamadou Samassa did well to turn behind for a corner.  On the hour mark, Costil showed us all why he is making such a strong claim to be on the plane to Brazil in the summer.  Another cross from the left found Yatabare and with a third goal seemingly on the cards, Costil dived to his left to produce a wonderful instinctive save to keep the deficit to just the two goals.

Despite going all out attack with the introduction of Nelson Oliveira, Rennes were unable to produce many more clear cut chances and in fact it seemed Guingamp were more likely to get another goal with Beauvue just firing wide.  Into injury time and both teams had strong penalty shouts turned down by referee Tony Chapron as both Yatabare and Ntep seemed to be fouled in their respective opponents areas.  To be fair, Rennes simply did not deserve a goal as a dreadful performance was finally ended with the final whistle.  Against the odds, Guingamp had again upset the odds and secured victory in the Coupe de France final.

It’s such a familiar story for Rennes fans that the team just didn’t turn up.  The midfield in particular were so disappointing and despite having plenty of set piece opportunities, the crosses were so poor.  Let’s not take anything away from Guingamp though as they fully deserved their victory and I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate them, the players, staff and most of all the fans who helped produce such a carnival atmosphere in the capital and represented the Brittany region so well.

For Rennes, it doesn’t get much easier as they travel back to the capital on Wednesday to face Paris St Germain at the Parc des Princes with the home side attempting to secure the Ligue 1 title.  All we can do is hope for a better performance and two final league games after that.

Teams:

Stade Rennais: Costil, Danze (C), Boye, Armand, Moreira, Makoun (Pajot), Konradsen (Oliviera), Doucoure, Grosicki (Ntep), Toivonen, Alessandrini

EA Guingamp: Samassa, Martins-Pereira, Kerbrat, Sorbon, Leveque, Mathis (C), Sankhare, Beauvue (Atik), Langil (Giresse), Mandanne (Diallo), Yatabare

Goals: 

EA Guingamp: Martins-Pereira 37′, Yatabare, 46′

Man of the Match: I award it to the Guingamp team as it was too tough on such a big occasion to single out an individual

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News and Catch Up

Just some points of interest from the last week as I’ve been away recently.

Week 33 – Stade Rennais 0 AS Monaco 1

A dogged performance from Rennes was not enough as big spending Monaco left Brittany with all three points.  Benoit Costil was yet again a stand out performer being called into action a number of times in the first half with saves from Joao Moutinho, Emmanuel Riviere, James Rodriguez and Layvin Kurzawa.  Romain Danze had the only effort on goal for the home side.

The deadlock was broken 10 minutes into the second half as Jeremy Toulalan fed Riviere before the striker fired home across Costil.  Shortly after Costil was again at his best to deny Riviere a second goal with another quality save.  Rennes lacked a killer instinct and were missing that bit of quality in the final third despite Ola Toivonen again proving a handful.  Costil’ heroics were not enough as the final whistle blew and the match finishing 1-0 to the men from the principality.

Coupe de France Semi-Final – Stade Rennais 3 Angers SCO 2

Rennes do love to cause their fans some worry.  Going into the match as favourites, it only took two minutes for the Ligue 2 side to take the lead through Mohamed Yattara.  Despite coming back with three goals through Ola Toivonen, Kamil Grosicki and Jean II Makoun, a last minute Yattara penalty ensured a nerve jangling finish.  Nevertheless Rennes held on and booked their place in the Stade de France showpiece on Saturday 3 May.

In the final they will come up against local rivals Guingamp after they pulled off a surprise win over Monaco.  On paper it means Rennes arguably go into the final as favourites and in the frame to end their barren trophy-less run.  However two clear concerns present themselves; i) Rennes have lost twice to Guingamp this season in the league, and ii) this is a repeat of the 2009 Coupe de France final – it didn’t end well for Rennes.

All things considered though, I think most Rennes fans would agree Guingamp would have been the preferred opposition for the final so the best thing to do is keep everything crossed, hope the team turns up on the day and look forward to a place in another cup final.

Week 34 – AS Saint-Etienne 0 Stade Rennais 0

It sounds like I am repeating myself here but yet again Benoit Costil proved the hero for Rennes as he put in another outstanding display for les Rouges et Noirs.  It was a strong performance from the entire defence as they were without captain Romain Danze (hamstring injury) and lost Cheik M’Bengue int he first half to injury.  Steven Moreira and Cedric Hountondji showing again they have quality beyond their  years.

The first half passed without any significant action and only seemed to spring into action after the break as former Rennes forward Mevlut Erding found himself free in the box.  His first time toe poke though brought the best from Costil as he produced an instinctive diving save low to his left.  When Costil was beaten, by a Romain Hamouma header, the effort was ruled out for offside.  Benoit Tremoulinas, Moustapha Bayal Sall, Renaud Cohade and Loic Perrin all had efforts but either failed to hit the target or could not beat Costil.

Without the injured Toivonan, who was suffering with a foot injury, Rennes lacked an obvious goal threat but leaving the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard with a point is nothing to be ashamed of.

News in brief

– Five Rennes players made French Football Weekly’s Le50, a list of the best 50 young French based players.  Tiemoue Bakayoko, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Cedric Hountondji, Adrien Hunou and Axel Ngando made the list.  It is well worth a read and you can download Le50 for free http://frenchfootballweekly.com/2014/04/16/le50-2014-the-best-prospects-in-french-football/ Give French Football Weekly a follow on twitter at the following accounts: https://twitter.com/FrenchFtWeekly and https://twitter.com/FFW_LIVE

– Ola Toivonen is in the running to be Ligue 1 Player of the Month for March – vote for him here:

http://www.lequipe.fr/Football/Ligue-1/joueur-du-mois/

http://www.footballeurspros.fr/

http://www.rtl.fr/vote/votez-pour-le-meilleur-joueur-du-mois-de-mars-de-ligue-1-7770571332

– For those unable to get Coupe de France final tickets, the match will be shown via big screen at l’esplanade Général de Gaulle

– Finally today (19 April) is Wesley Said’ 19th birthday.  Félicitations Wesley!

Match Report: Quarters Conquered

Thursday 27 March 2014: Stade Rennais 2 Lille 0

Courtesy of @Goal_ID

Courtesy of @Goal_ID

Through the doom and gloom of the league campaign, a ray of light has emerged with the Coupe de France run.  A run which has now led Rennes to the semi-finals after tonight’s victory over Lille at the Stade de la Route de Lorient.

A full strength Rennes team shaded the first half.  They nearly went ahead in the 20th minute as Abdoulaye Doucoure turned on the edge of the area before Ola Toivonen, back in the side after missing the Marseille game, beat him to the ball to blast at goal.  Lille goalkeeper Steeve Elana had to be alert to save with his feet.

At the other Jonathan Delaplace flicked the ball up before volleying at goal, the ball just flying over Benoit Costil’ goal.  The raucous home crowd were rewarded just after the half hour mark as a Romain Alessandrini cross missed Toivonen but found Kamil Grosicki free in the box.  The Pole took a touch before smashing high into the top corner for his first goal for the club.

An Elana flap from a Grosicki cross hinted at the goalkeepers vulnerability with the simple things.  Jean II Makoun just failing to convert the difficult cross with a first time reaction shot just before the break.

Lille came out strong in the second half and put together a sustained period of pressure but struggled to put Costil under serious threat.  It was Rennes who had the big chances as first a handball appeal was turned down by the referee as a Sylvain Armand shot appeared to strike Simon Kjaer’ hand.  Second half substitute Tiemoue Bakayoko almost scored with his first touch but his header was cleared off the line by fellow replacement Marvin Martin.

Salomon Kalou had Lille’ best chance of the game as a lovely patient, passing move lead to Franck Beria crossing in for the Ivory Coast international to blaze over from close range.

As the game wore on, Rennes were resorting to quick counter attacks which served them well in the weekend win over Marseille but tonight, the final ball was just lacking.  It got a little nervy for the home fans as the minutes ticked by until in injury time, Doucoure led another break, he passed to Nelson Oliveira who in turn fed the ball to Alessandrini.  The winger was a long way out but hit a powerful shot which somehow beat Elana and deflected off him into the back of the net.  It was a horror show from the goalkeeper who, despite a little swerve on the shot, should really have done better.

With that the tie was over and as the full time whistle blew, the crowd and players celebrated reaching the semi-finals of another tournament.  Ligue 2 side Angers stand between Rennes and a second successive appearance at the Stade de France.  Rennes however know they can’t take their semi-final opponent lightly as losses to Guingamp and amateur side Quevilly in recent years have proven.

For now thought let’s just celebrate an excellent victory – there have been far too few of those this season!

Allez les Rouges et Noirs!

Teams:

Stade Rennais: Costil, Danze (C), Kana-Biyik, Armand, M’Bengue, Makoun (Bakayoko 71′), Konradsen, Doucoure, Grosicki (Kadir 81′), Toivonen (Oliveira 60′) , Alessandrini

Lille: Elana, Beria, Basa, Kjaer, Souare, Balmont (C), Gueye, Delaplace (Martin 56′), Rodelin (Mendes 67′), Origi (Roux 73′), Kalou

Goals: 

Stade Rennais: Grosicki 35′, Alessandrini 92′

Man of the Match: Armand