Interview: Benoit Costil

Interview: Benoit Costil

Caen native and former Stade Malherbe Caen player, Benoit Costil has been interviewed for the official SM Caen website ahead of the game on Saturday.  Below is the translation.

How do you rate the start of the season for your team?

“Encouraging.  Our record in the last two games is positive. We responded well after our setback in Lyon in the opening game (0-2) by showing the value of efficiency against Evian (6-2) and solidity against St. Etienne (0-0).”

What ambitions do Stade Rennais have?

“We did not finish where we wanted to last season. Our objective is to play more consistently and avoid a scare like last year.  After that if we can snatch something interesting, we’re not going to deny it.  But do not forget that we face another season of transition with many departures and arrivals within the squad.”

Has last season left any traces?

“Not necessarily in the league. For the players who were here, it was especially the defeat in the final of the Coupe de France against Guingamp that made an impression.  Since I’ve been at the club, I already have had two failures in the final of cups.  But one of the qualities of top footballers is knowing how to rebound.  Moreover, the high turnover of the squad has also been used to trigger a new momentum.”

Courtesy of FFF

Courtesy of FFF

What is your mood ahead of the game against Stade Malherbe?

“First of all, I am disappointed not play at d’Ornano.  When I checked the calendar, I hoped one thing: we would not be one of the two matches to be played at Le Mans, however this is only a postponement, I will come back next season.  Otherwise I am very happy to face Caen by defending the shirt of a very good Ligue 1 club.”

What kind of match do you expect?

“Given their good start to the season, Caen will not have much to lose.  So I think while remaining organised, they’ll play a pretty game.  From what I’ve seen, their plans for the game are very coherent play.  Their coach has established an excellent organisation.  Then there’s my friend Julien Feret.  It’s already established that I get his shirt, but I hope he will not hurt us too.”

Have you kept your links with former club?

“If the pill was hard to swallow at the time of my departure, I found that in the last few years I now have some support.  My whole family vibrates “bleu et rouge”.  When I joined Malherbe, my father become a steward, my mother regularly volunteered and my big brother, Eddy, who joined me at the club a few years later and played until CFA, is now responsible for the goalkeepers at the training centre.”

Interview courtesy of SM Caen – Costil Interview.  www.smcaen.fr were not liable for the translated version.

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Interview: Julien Feret

Interview: Julien Feret

Julien Feret has conducted an interview with http://www.staderennais.com.  Below you will find the translated version of this.

Now captain with Stade Malherbe de Caen, the former Rennes midfielder welcomes his former teammates on Saturday night to the MMArena.  Although his last season in “Rouge et Noir” was not memorable, Julien Feret is still attached to Rennes.

Julian, how have you started in Caen?

It’s going well.  I was well received by the club.  My pre-season preparation was complete.  I have not had any physical problems.  I played the first three games.  It’s started pretty well.

Have you more responsibility in the Caen dressing room?

The coach wanted me to take the armband.  My role has not changed.  I’ve always had the habit of speaking quietly.  I try to bring my experience of professional football and Ligue 1.

You have already rubbed shoulders with Patrice Garande, your coach …

This is someone I knew when I was in Cherbourg in the National.  He is frank, wholesome, right … he does his job thoroughly.  He is capable of being a good coach in Ligue 1.  He was a major factor in my coming to Caen.

How are you approaching the game against your old team?

I approach in the same manner as the others.  There will be of course a somewhat larger share of emotions.  My departure from Rennes is still fresh.  But there is no more at stake than another game.

The meeting will be played on neutral ground at Le Mans (the World Equestrian Championships are currently being held at Caen’ normal home, the Stade Michel d’Ornano – Ed), do you feel like losing the advantage of playing at home?

We are trying to take over this ground and to act as if we were at home.  This will be the second game and the last at the MMArena.  Even if there was no result here this worked pretty well against Lille (0-1 defeat).

What are the ambitions of Caen this season?

The main objective is to stay in Ligue 1.  This is the one and only objective.  Each week we will spend together and focus on the games that we will be playing.  It is important for the club.

Are you confident?

I find that there is quality.  This feels like a totally focused group.  We know it will be hard and we will fight to the end.  I think we have the weapons to fight until the end.

Are you still in contact with some players at Rennes?

I speak to Benedict (Costil) fairly regularly, Sylvain (Armand) and “Ladanze” (Romain Danze) too.  These are the people I spent the most time with.  I may speak to them on the phone before the game.

Benoit Costil, does he try to profit by getting news from Normandy?

He pays attention to what you do. He came to see us in pre-season. I think he is very happy that I came to his first club (laughs).

He puts pressure you?

He wants me to be performing with Caen.  This is normal . He wants to see the Caen continue in Ligue 1.

Do you have any regrets since you left Stade Rennais?

I do not have one.  There is no nostalgia.  I spent two great seasons and a more complicated one that I want to forget.  I am always attentive to what the club does.  I spent six years in total at the club, which is not insignificant.

Among the young players that you knew at Rennes, which do you see at the highest level?

Steven (Moreira) really is the future.  For Cedric (Hountondji), it is more complicated because there are people in the centre of defence already.  But if his future it is not with Rennes, it could be elsewhere.  And I think Wesley (Said) is able to prevail.  He needs to click.  I see him at a very high level.

 

Interview and pictures courtesy of http://www.staderennais.com.  www.staderennais.com were not liable for the translated version.

News and Updates – 27 August 2014

News and Updates – 27 August 2014.

Transfer News

The club has completed the signing of Senegalese centre back Fallou Diagne from German club Freiburg.  The 25 year old has joined les Rouges et Noirs on a three year deal.  He will wear the number 14 shirt with “Fallou” on the back.  Diagne played for the Bundesliga team for two seasons and enhanced his reputation with scouts from teams such as Schalke taking a look at him.  He has experience of playing in France having spent over three seasons with Metz in Ligue 2.  He will join up with his former Freiburg teammate Gelson Fernandes.

Diagne: “Rennes are a recognized club.  When I was asked to join, I did not hesitate.  Many Senegalese players have played in Rennes such as Kader Mangane and Moussa Sow.  They had some great seasons here.  I spoke with Gelson, his first impressions of the club are good.  I have to prove myself because I have not played in Ligue 1.”

Philippe Montanier: “In the centre of defence, we have two experienced players with Mexer and Sylvain Armand and two younger players with Cedric Hountondji and Gjoko Zajkov, but we wanted an extra player.  He has been followed for many years by the club.  He is a French player with good athleticism.  Gelson Fernandes told us about him before he arrived.  He gave us good information about the man and the player.”

The arrival of Diagne, as the clubs tenth signing this summer, could now lead to a number of the younger players being sent out on loan to Ligue 2 teams for game time and experience.  These players could include Zana Allee, Adrian Hunou and Wesley Said.  Hunou has been linked with a move to Ajaccio, Laval and Clermont.

One youngster who has gone out on loan already is Cedric Hountondji who has joined Ligue 2 side Chateauroux on a season long loan.  The loan deal contains no option for purchase for Chateauroux so that should mean Hountondji will come back to les Rouges et Noirs will a full season of Ligue 2 football under his belt.  A good deal all round.

Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik, who has been relegated to the reserves the last few weeks, could finally be on his way out of the club.  He had previously been discussing a move to Italian club Palermo.  In the last few days though these talks have stalled.  L’Equipe now report that discussions have begun with English side West Ham United.

France Football have claimed that the club are looking to open talks with Yoann Gourcuff about as possible move back to Stade Rennais.  His wages and injury record may prove a stumbling block however.

Montanier told Ouest France that recruitment is “95% complete” but he still remains on the lookout for potential deals before the close of the transfer window.

Ouest France also report that Jean Makoun is hopeful of successful negotiations with another Gulf based club after talks broke down with UAE club Al-Fujairah.

Squad News

Kamil Grosicki has returned to training with the first team whilst Benjamin Andre and Axel Ngando trained separately.

Sega Coulibaly has been called up to the French U19 team for a mini-tournament in Serbia in early September.  They will play matches against the host nation and Ukraine.

Benoit Costil has picked up his award for best Ligue 1 goalkeeper for the 2013-14 season as voted for by France Football.  A well deserved winner!

Miscellaneous

In a rare interview, club owner Francois Pinault, has spoken with French newspaper Ouest France whereby he discussed his commitment to the club and his thoughts on financial investment.

“Every time one of my managers asked me for money, he got it.  It was perhaps not the best solution.  There is a new cycle, which begins with a management team that knows the business.  The money is not enough. We still need to learn other things. To finally take that step.  Creating a “bling-bling” team does not interest me.  This does not correspond to the UK.  I prefer solid guys on the field.”

Pinault, who has experienced more disappointment than joy with Rennes, also tells Ouest-France how he was in New York during the last Coupe de France final, where the club lost to Guingamp (0-2) again in May 2014, “we were on the 41st floor of a building and I was convinced we were going to finally win it.  We could not lose two finals in a row against the same opponent.  Fortunately the windows do not open in the towers …” joked the businessman.

Player Profile: Benoit Costil

Player Profile: Benoit Costil

Since joining Stade Rennais in 2011, Caen born Benoit Costil has established himself as the undisputed number one goalkeeper at the club as well as furthering his reputation as one of the best shot-stoppers in Ligue 1.

Costil had grown through the youth ranks at SM Caen, but never quite made it as their first choice goalkeeper as he failed to move ahead of Vicent Plante in the pecking order in Normandy.  In 2008 he was loaned out to Vannes OC to secure game time and managed to play a total of 27 games in Ligue 2.  Ironically it was Costil’ current goalkeeping coach at Stade Rennais, Christophe Revel, who he overtook as first choice for the southern Breton outfit.

Upon returning to Caen, Costil saw that his opportunities would be limited and so a mutual agreement to end his contract with the club, allowing a move to CS Sedan Ardennes to take place.  It was with the northern club where Costil really started to make a name for himself.  He played pretty much every game for two consecutive seasons for Sedan and won their fans player of the season vote for 2009-10 and the UNFP award for best goalkeeper in Ligue 2 in 2010-11 as well as being named in the team of the season.  His second year with Sedan attracted scouts from a number of top flight teams.

Frederic Antonetti brought Costil to les Rouges et Noirs, as a replacement for PSG bound Nicolas Douchez, in the summer of 2011 and he has remained first choice goalkeeper ever since playing a total of 140 games for the club.  He has especially formed a great working relationshop with former teammate, now goalkeeping coach Revel who has overseen his development into the quality goalkeeper we see today.

His strengths lay in his calmness and pure shot-stopping capabilities.  With fantastic reflexes, he has single handedly won countless points for les Rouges et Noirs.  In the traumatic season of 2013-14, Costil arguably was the reason Stade Rennais avoided a more severe fight against relegation as he produced man of the match performance after man of the match performance with numerous crucial saves.

Despite consistently impressive performances in Ligue 1, it is perhaps a surprise Costil hasn’t made more of an impact for the national team.  He was in goal as the France under-17’s won the 2004 European Championships, a squad including Karim Benzema, Jeremy Menez, Samir Nasri and Hatem Ben Arfa.  He was again in goal as France won the 2007 Toulon tournament, teaming up with club teammate Romain Danze.  He has represented les Bleus at every level apart from the senior team and many were surprised that he he wasn’t called up to the back up squad for the 2014 World Cup after injury ruled Steve Mandanda out.  Especially with the previous season being one of his best to date.

As one of the most important players for Stade Rennais and one of the most impressive goalkeepers in the division, it is understandable that other teams keep an eye on him with Saint-Etienne the most recent team linked with a move for him.

For now though, the 2012 “Sexiest Player in Ligue 1”, remains a loyal servant to the club and with him contracted to les Rouges et Noirs until 2017, it is difficult to see him moving before then.

Week 3 Match Report: Saint-Etienne v Stade Rennais

Week 3 Match Report: Saint-Etienne v Stade Rennais – 24 August 2014

A really determined, backs against the wall performance from Stade Rennais saw them come away from le Stade Geoffroy-Guichard with a well deserved point after a 0-0 draw for the second season running.

With Kamil Grosicki not recovered from injury, Sanjin Prcic was moved to the right wing with Abdoulaye Doucoure starting in the attacking midfield role. It meant Paul-Georges Ntep started from the bench for the second week running.

Backed by a boisterous crowd, the home side started confidently with three former Stade Rennais players in their starting eleven.  Fabien Lemoine, Mevlut Erding and Kevin Theophile-Catherine on his debut for les Verts.

Pedro Henrique was the man at the centre of the action for the away side.  An accidental collision with Saint-Etienne captain Loic Perrin left the Brazilian with a bloody nose.  Once that had been cleared up, a high boot from Henrique on Theophile-Catherine got tempers flared.  There were words between the winger and Saint-Etienne coach Christophe Galtier before Philippe Montanier stepped in to calm the player.

The first big chance of the game fell to les Rouges et Noirs as a raking long field pass from Ola Toivonen found an onrushing Henrique who saw his first time shot crash back off the post.  The rebound fell to Prcic but the Bosnian’ follow up was off target.  It was the wake up call the home side needed and shortly after saw the most contentious moment of the match.

Kevin Monnet-Paquet got the to the touchline and managed to cross, Cheik M’Bengue and Erding had a coming together and whilst contact was minimal at most, the former Stade Rennais man fell to the floor and penalty was awarded.  It was a very soft decision but karma was restored as Erding’ poor penalty was saved by Benoit Costil as half time arrived.

Shortly after the break, Ntep replaced Henrique who still seemed ruffled after the earlier scuffle with Galtier.  Whilst Ntep’ pace provided an outlet, it became obvious the point was what Montanier was happy with.  This began a trend as Stade Rennais sat back allowing the home side to come at them with wave after wave of attack.  Fortunately for the Breton’s, Saint-Etienne really struggled with a quality final ball and failed to produce clear cut chances.

As the minutes ticked by, the pressure grew and grew as the crowd urged the home side on.  That one big chance never materialised for les Verts and as a dangerous free kick deflected off the wall and out of play, the referee blew his whistle and Stade Rennais had earned a deserved point.

Whilst at times it was frustrating to see Toivonen so isolated and forced to come very deep for the ball, it was clear after 45 minutes that a draw would have been satisfactory.  With that in mind, it was satisfying to see a much more organised defence lead by captain Romain Danze, who is clearly a better right back than midfielder, a notion which must be forgotten, even when Benjamin Andre is back and fit.  The defence was given excellent protection from Gelson Fernandes and Vincent Pajot who were the real stand out players for les Rouges et Noirs as they cut out attacks, made important tackles and provided calm distribution throughout the game.

Next up for Stade Rennais is a trips to Le Mans to face a Caen side lead by veteran and former Stade de la Route de Lorient favourite, Julien Feret.

Finally, just a note to wish a Happy Birthday to one of my personal favourite Stade Rennais players, Kim Kallstrom!

Quotes

Montanier: “We expected a tough game and it was.  We knew that to get the draw we had to have a fighting spirit.  They replied in their impact and in the tackle.  We played a solid game including the best opportunity in the first half.  There has also been some technical mastery today.  We have progressed.”

M’Bengue: “That’s a good point.  We deserved the draw.  The manager was focused on our defensive play.  We really wanted to concede no goals.  Personally, I feel better and better, I’m happy with my game.”

Fernandes: “This is the reward for a hard week of work.  I’m happy with my game.  In the midfield, we battled against a great team in Saint-Etienne, who are most certainly an underdog for the championship.”

 

Teamsheet

Saint-Etienne: Ruffier, Theophile-Catherine, Sall, Perrin (Capt), Tabanou, Corgnet (Gradel 60′), Cohade, Lemoine, Hamouma (Brison 88′), Monnet-Paquet, Erding (van Wolsfwinkel 56′)

Yellow Cards: Corgnet 43′, Sall 87′

Stade Rennais: Costil, Danze (Capt), Mexer, Armand, M’Bengue, Fernandes, Pajot, Doucoure, Prcic (Moreira 75′), Henrique (Ntep 50′), Toivonen (Hosiner 84′)

Yellow Cards: Fernandes 29′, M’Bengue 50′, Armand 70′

Man of the Match: Fernandes

It Is Alive! Our Return, Catch Up and Weekend Preview

Hello all, finally the blog is back! It’s been a while and I can only apologise for that!

Anyway after a busy summer, a whole new group of players have left and been brought in.  Rennes opened the league campaign in very disappointing fashion.  The 4-2-3-1 with captain Romain Danze really failed to ignite any positives in the 2-0 defeat to Lyon.  Pedro Henrique had a decent showing on debut and arguably should have won a penalty but it really was a game to forget for les Rouges et Noirs.

Come Week Two and it was all change.  With Danze back in familiar right back territory, Gelson Fernandes brought in for his first start and Paul-Georges Ntep left on the bench so his explosive talent could be introduced later in the game, Rennes came out all guns blazing against Evian Thonon Gaillard.  Taking the lead through Ola Toivonen, who was back to his hustling, bustling best, Rennes looked dangerous with every attack.  Defensive fragility was still clear to see, as demonstrated by the complete lack of marking for Daniel Wass’ equaliser.  Shortly before half time it turned into the Edson Mexer show.  The Mozambique centre back showing a knack for the spectacular finish following a Danze cross as he volleyed home from the edge of the area.  He doubled his tally shortly after, rising highest to head home a right sided corner.

The second half followed in similar fashion.  Toivonen got his second from another Danze cross, although there were suspicions of handball from the Swede.  The Ntep experiment worked to great effect as he was brought on (albeit earlier then anticipated following an injury to Kamil Grosicki).  The youngster demonstrated his pace and skill in the second half as he collected the ball 30 yards from the Evian goal, he ran at the heart of the defence and thanks to some generous defending, found himself in the area and able to colly slot home to open his account for the season.  The sixth goal followed shortly after as Toivonen and Abdoulaye Doucoure combined well to set up Ntep on his own in the penalty to sweep home into the top corner.  Wass was again allowed far too much time and space in the Rennes box as he got his second but it was merely a consolation.

Whilst the goalscorers took the bulk of the headlines, there were great performances from Danze, he’s a much better right back than midfielder, and Fernandes who slotted in as protector of the defence with ease.  He was a calm presence that mopped up numerous loose balls and allowed the other midfielders and attackers to push forward confidently.  A great home debut.

A 6-2 win was far beyond any fans dreams, and how nice it was to hear the home faithful in joyous cheering, something that was heard far to infrequently last season.

So this Sunday, Rennes face another tough away trip, this time to undefeated Saint-Etienne.  Les Verts have made a great start to the season and in former Rennes forward Mevlut Erding, have the leagues most in form striker with three goals in the opening two matches.  Rennes must pay close attention to not only him but dangerous creative players such as Romain Hamouma, Max-Alain Gradel and Kevin Monnet-Paquet who supply Erding with his chances.  If Rennes can keep those quiet then there is a chance against les Verts.  Rennes drew this fixture 0-0 last year and must look to use attack as the best form of defence.

With Grosicki nursing the injury picked up against Evian, Ntep could find himself back in the starting XI.  Other than than it would be a tough call for Philippe Montanier to make any further changes.

This, therefore would be my predicted starting XI for the game against Saint-Etienne:

ASSE formation

I’ll go with a draw as my match prediction.  I’d love to know your thoughts ahead of the game on Sunday.

It’s good to be back and we’ll have the full match review on Monday.

Allez les Rouges et Noirs!

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

Match Report: Ntep Nicks It In Cup Final Week

Saturday 26 April 2014 – Week 35: Stade Rennais 1 Lorient 1

The spoils were shared in Rennes’ last league Breton Derby of the season as it finished 1-1 at home to Lorient.  Not necessarily the performance we were looking for ahead of the Coupe de France Final but slightly understandable that one eye would have been on next Saturdays big game.

With both first choice full backs out injured, Philippe Montanier named Steven Moreira at left back and surprisingly Vincent Pajot on the right.  From the off this seemed a poor choice as Lorient flew out of the blocks quick to get Kevin Monnet-Paquet on the ball and attacking the out of position Pajot.  With less than three minutes on the clock, a Lorient attack was broken down by Pajot but his clearance only hit teammate John Boye before rebounding towards the goal.  It had to take an excellent reflex save from Benoit Costil to prevent the home side from going a goal down in comical circumstances.

Less than two minutes later and Lorient could have easily had a second as a Monnet-Paquet cross deflected of a number of players before Costil palmed clear.  It was another impressive performance from Costil, strengthening his growing case for a spot in the French World Cup squad.

The theme of the first half was clear with Lorient time and time again targeting Pajot and the inexperienced Moreira.  Rennes were left with scraps in terms of chances.  In the 17th minute, the goal that Lorient had been threatening finally came.  Jeremie Aliadiere found himself space on the right before floating in a perfect free kick to meet the head of Alain Traore who had got free of his marker with a clever near post run.  His glancing header found the far corner perfectly leaving Costil with no chance.

Mere minutes later and Lorient could and perhaps should have been two up.  Monnet-Paquet again had time and space on the left to fire in a great cross which Aliadiere somehow failed to convert in the six yard box.  It took 25 minutes for Rennes to finally threaten as Alessandrini burst into the box, beat the onrushing defender before his powerful shot was well saved by Fabien Audard in the Lorient goal.

Rennes were sent another warning shot as a long ball was finished superbly by Traore on the volley.  Fortunately he was flagged correctly for being offside, but only just.  The home crowd grew impatient as time and time again Rennes were forced to play the ball amongst their defence as Lorient were happy to keep them in their own half.  As the half time whistle blew, the faint echo of boos could be heard coming from the stands.

Rennes came out stronger in the second half and shortly after the break, Ola Toivonen, who had been denied service all night, finally found space to take a shot which was deflected wide.  On the hour mark, Montanier made the key change as Paul-Georges Ntep replaced the quiet Kamil Grosicki.  Almost immediately the youngster was on the ball and running at the Lorient defence.

Although Rennes were in the ascendancy, they were lucky to escape a penalty as the referee signalled a free kick following a Konradsen foul which, after seeing replays, appeared to have taken place inside the area.

Ntep was determined to stake his claim for a Coupe de France Final starting place.  He managed to cut back an Alessandrini cross for Toivonen who poked a shot just wide.  Shortly after Ntep showed pace and trickery to beat two Lorient defenders before sending in a cross which beat everyone but substitute Foued Kadir but he took too long and Audard was able to turn his shot behind.  From the resulting corner, Alessandrini swung in a perfect cross which was firmly headed home by the young starlet.

Both sides had chances to win it in the last 15 minutes.  Vincent Aboubakar, also on as a substitute, forced Costil into a diving save before Doucoure showed great skill to get between two Lorient defenders, his shot well saved by Audard.  With time running out, a Gilles Sunu corner evaded everyone and almost snuck in at the far post.  The final attack of the game forced Costil into another superb save as a Monnet-Paquet shot was tipped wide by the sprawling goalkeeper.

With that the full time whistle went.  Both teams could have won it but a draw was probably the fairest result.  Rennes can now look forward to Saturdays Final and a chance to put to bed the baron, trophy-less years.  I, for one, can’t wait.  Nerves are there, it is Guingamp after all, but there is a big, big chance for Montanier to take the team into Europe off the back of a victory in the showpiece event.

Allez les Rouges et Noirs!

Teams:

Stade Rennais: Costil, Pajot, Boye, Armand (C), Moreira, Makoun (Kadir 67′), Konradsen, Doucoure, Grosicki (Ntep 59′), Toivonen, Alessandrini

Lorient: Audard, Ecuele-Manga, Bourillon, Guerreiro, Gassama, Coutadeur (Doukoure 53′), Sunu, Traore (Aboubakar 68′), Lautoa, Aliadiere, Monnet-Paquet

Goals: 

Stade Rennais: Ntep 73′

Lorient: Traore 17′

Cards:

Stade Rennais: Armand – Yellow 56′, Makoun – Yellow 57′

Lorient: Lautoa – Yellow 85′

Man of the Match: Costil

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: Back From The Brink In Bordeaux

Saturday 05 April 2014 – Week 32: Girondins de Bordeaux 2 Stade Rennais 2

Courtesy of @staderennais

Courtesy of @staderennais

A chance to go on a four game league and cup winning streak you say?  For the first time since October/November 2012 you say?  Surely not you say?  Well no, in the end the win was not secured but it’s another point and in many ways there was a significant positive to take from the game.  To come back from going two goals behind took real character, a battling character we haven’t really seen so far this season.

It began in ominous circumstances as a very insipid opening half hour went by without so much as a sniff of a chance for either team.  Despite goals being the order of the day in last weeks comprehensive win over Bastia, Ola Toivonen cut a very frustrated figure as he had to come deep and battle for the ball due to the lack of service he was getting.  In the 37th minute, the fans in attendance were given something to wake them up.  Diego Rolan played a lovely through ball which cut the Rennes defence in half and allowed Guillaume Hoarau a clear run in on goal before he slotted calmly passed Benoit Costil to put the home side ahead.

As the half time break came and went, it seemed it would be more of the same in the second half as it began in similar, dour fashion.  On the hour mark, the game came to life again.  Henri Saivet played a ball through which allowed Rolan to run in on goal and fire high beyond Costil.

We’ve seen it many times before the season and many would be forgiven for thinking that was game over.  Far from it.  The second Bordeaux goal seemed to finally wake Rennes up and they suddenly upped their performance levels.  Within a couple of minutes they had pulled a goal back as Jean II Makoun produced a lovely defence splitting pass to find Abdoulaye Doucoure free to score his sixth goal of the season.

Rennes sensed they could get something from the game and only four minutes later they were level.  Kamil Grosicki finally produced the pinpoint accurate cross expected of him which found Romain Alessandrini free at the far post as he expertly finished a volley at an awkward height.

With that it seemed like Rennes could go on and get the winner, but they seemed to be happy with the point and were almost made to pay for it in injury time as Rolan flicked the ball up on the edge of the area before firing a volley that seemed destined for the top corner before Costil produced a stunning save diving high at full stretch to his left to ensure Rennes left with a point.

An excellent come back that I for one didn’t see coming.  It means that is now four league and cup matches unbeaten.  Next up is Monaco at home on Saturday, a very tough test but at least the PSG fans will be in our corner!

As a side note, I’d like to wish Emerson well as his contract was terminated by mutual consent recently.

For now though, allez Les Rouges et Noirs!

Teams:

Girondins de Bordeaux: Carrasso, Mariano, Sane, Orban, Planus, Traore, Sertic, Rolan, Saivet (Diabate 80′), Hoarau, Maurice-Belay

Stade Rennais: Costil, Danze (C), Kana-Biyik, Armand, M’Bengue, Makoun (Boye 81′), Konradsen, Doucoure (Kadir 65′), Grosicki (Moreira 87′), Toivonen, Alessandrini

Goals: 

Girondins de Bordeaux: Hoarau 37′, Rolan, 61′

Stade Rennais: Doucoure 64′, Alessandrini 68′

Cards:

Girondins de Bordeaux: Diabate – Yellow 92′

Stade Rennais: Doucoure – Yellow 47′, Toivonen – Yellow 85′, Grosicki – Yellow 86′

Man of the Match: Rolan